A suspected illegal streaming operation has been closed down after specialist police carried out a raid to dismantle the organised crime scam.

Officers from the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) carried out the operation to target fraud and illegal streaming of Sky content.

Illegal streaming equipment and a large quantity of suspected counterfeit clothing were seized from the targeted property on Coxwold Road, Stockton.

A 52-year-old man was arrested under suspicion of supplying articles for use in fraud and money laundering. He has since been released under investigation while enquiries continue.

The Northern Echo: Some of the items seized by the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) tackling illegal streaming of Sky contentSome of the items seized by the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU) tackling illegal streaming of Sky content (Image: North East Regional Organised Crime Unit (NEROCU))

Detective Sergeant James Woodcock, who works in NEROCU’s Proactive Economic Crime Team (PECT), said: “This action demonstrates the full extent of our resources and the intelligence at our disposal to take action against those breaking the law.

“While most people think paying for illegal streaming devices and services is a victimless crime – this couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Illegal streaming services that supply entertainment and sports content via modified boxes, firesticks, and subscriptions, help fund wider organised crime such as human trafficking, child sexual exploitation, drug supply and other sinister crimes.

“We’re also warning users of the many other risks associated with illegal streaming, including fraud, scams, exposure to inappropriate content, viruses, and malware.”

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It's an offence to illegal stream under copyright law in the UK and people can face significant fines and imprisonment, with terms of up to ten years.

People found to be responsible for distributing illegal streams have faced fines upwards of £50,000.

Matt Hibbert, Director of Anti-Piracy, UK and ROI, at Sky said: “We’d like to thank the North East Regional Organised Crime Unit for taking robust action to tackle illegal streaming, bring those responsible to justice, and help keep consumers safe from risks of accessing illegal content.”

To find out more about the dangers of illegal streaming visit the FACT website, which is the UK’s leading intellectual property protection organisation.