POLICE have busted what is believed to be one of the island’s biggest illegal providers of subscription television, in an operation that has been ongoing for the past four months.
Police arrested a 49-year-old Limassol man and were yesterday seeking a second suspect, 37, also from Limassol, believed to have been making hundreds of thousands of euros from the illegal provision of subscription television to Cypriot and European viewers.
The 49-year-old was arrested on Tuesday on suspicion of being the proprietor of a webpage selling illegal subscriptions to Sky UK, BFBS and Nova Greece.
Police said the webpage advertised three, six and 12-month subscriptions for €55, €89 and €155 respectively.
His arrest followed a sting operation in which technicians from the companies bought subscriptions and were issued a receipt by the suspect, police said.
The man, who owns a shoe shop in Limassol, was arrested on Tuesday.
In his shop, police found a laptop containing a list of his clients – 1,395 – from whom it appears the suspects have collected €103,500 between October 2010 and May this year.
At the 49-year-old’s home, police found a server, thought to be used to transmit the illegal signal to subscribers.
Their search led to another Limassol address, linked to the 37-year-old, where officers found four servers.
“The four servers found at the place, which belongs to the wanted man’s father-in- law, seem to be among the most specialised,” police spokesman Michalis Katsounotos said, not ruling out it “being the third biggest server sought by subscription channels to date.”
The 49-year-old remained in custody yesterday after his lawyer requested a postponement of his remand hearing to examine the charges and prepare his case. The hearing will be held today at the Limassol District Court.
Katsounotos said the 49-year-old had admitted to illegally supplying subscription channels Sky UK, BFBS and Nova Greece.
He also confirmed that even though the police were primarily interested in dealing with the providers, buyers who purchased the decoders could very well find themselves in hot water, as the law included provisions for them as well.
“We still haven’t looked into that aspect of things, but it is definitely something that we will deal with,” Katsounotos said.
Police raided three establishments in total on Tuesday, in an operation that started early in the morning – the culmination of a sting operation that started four months ago.
According to Katsounotos, members of the force were accompanied by technicians from Sky, BFBS, NOVA Greece and IRDETO, a software security and media technology company.
Armed with court orders, the police confiscated a number of storage devices, servers and computers that will be examined by experts.
Source: Cyprus Mail