German police seize $30M in BTC, BCH connected to pirated movie website

Authorities in Germany have reportedly seized Crypto currencies in BTC worth $30 million in reference to an investigation into the now-shutdown illegal pirated movie streaming website movie2k.to.

 The Dresden Public Prosecutor’s Office made the announcement, with the support of the State Criminal police station of Saxony, and the Leipzig Tax Investigation Department.

The website was forced to shut in spring 2013 thanks to infringement of copyright concerns. It functioned as a user-contributed video directory for movies and tv programs that allowed users to download pirated content. The Movie Association of America successfully sued to revoke access within the U.K. 

The pirate movie portal generated revenue through advertising fees and subscriptions traps, which later was funneled into digital currencies, investigators said. Subscription traps work when an unwitting user signs up for a service but later finds it nearly impossible to cancel.

Authorities assert the German website’s two chief operators distributed over 880,000 pirated copies of films and television series, along side their accomplices, via the web site between autumn 2008 to May 2013. Authorities have charged them with operating an illegal streaming service, which enabled users to observe pirated films without downloading them.

One of the 2 alleged masterminds, who worked as the website’s programmer, has been in police custody since November 2019. 

Authorities said that the suspect has agreed to forfeit over €25 million (US$29.6 million) worth of BTC and BCH, and can aid enforcement authorities in further investigations against the second alleged operator, who still remains untraced by the police over the cybercrimes

The suspect in custody claims to possess purchased over 22,000 BTC from his ill-gotten gains. Reports allege him to possess further used the proceeds from this illegal enterprise to get various land properties from the autumn of 2013 to mid-2016 via a Berlin land company.

The programmer is also reportedly under investigation for money laundering connected with his activities as a real estate tycoon. He gave up the multi-million dollars’ worth of seized digital currencies during his interrogation as a part of the damage reparation.

The digital currency’s identification was a joint effort administered by a forensic expert supported extensive investigations in cooperation with the Federal Criminal police station and also the FBI. 

The investigation further shows how BTC has become the de facto darknet currency and currency for nefarious causes.

Read more: All Unlicensed Bitcoin ATMs Have Been Closed By Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority

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