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IPTV Piracy Group Members Arrested For Signal Theft, Fraud, Money Laundering

By iptv.legal , in Bell Canada canada IPTV Piracy Videotron , at February 22, 2024

sq-shield-sqThe action in Canada this week is being described as the second phase of an operation that began last year.

Events were triggered when rightsholders led by Bell Media filed a criminal complaint against pirate IPTV service, Arubox TV.

Following an investigation by the Quebec Provincial Police, in 2023 the Office of Criminal Assets Recovery and Money Laundering carried out five searches; a condo in Laval and premises in Saint-Eustache and Brownsburg-Chatham were among the targets.

When some of those locations were targeted again this week, police may have returned to finish the job.

At Least Five Arrested For Links to Arubox TV and Stocker IPTV

During Tuesday’s raids, conducted by the Quebec Provincial Police at locations in Gatineau, Longueuil, Saint-Eustache, and Brownsburg-Chatham, at least five people were detained for suspected links to Arubox TV and Stocker IPTV.

The suspects were arrested on suspicion of various crimes including theft of telecommunications services, fraud, and money laundering. According to a local media report, Videotron, Bell, and Rogers are among the TV companies affected. Police say that more arrests are likely to follow.

arubox-tv

Police claim that Arubox and Stocker packages provided access to more than 3,000 channels and in four years attracted over 7,000 subscribers. During the period 2020 to date, that reportedly generated around CA$2 million (US$1.5 million) for their operators, with sales over the past few months presumably taking place under the eye of the authorities.

Court Appearances via Videoconference

Following their arrests, the suspects appeared by videolink at the Trois-Rivières courthouse in Québec, accused of the crimes mentioned earlier plus another, mischief in relation to data.

Section 430(1.1) of the Criminal Code describes the offense as knowingly and intentionally destroying or altering data, to the extent it becomes useless or ineffective, or lawful use of the data is obstructed.

In respect of damage to the cable companies, the suspects stand accused of depriving them of an amount in excess of CA$500,000 using deception and fraudulent means.

Suspects Identified

The suspects were identified in court as follows: Éric Grenier (who is yet to be arrested) and Danick Rouleau, plus alleged accomplices Sarah-Maude Grenier, Christian Sabourin, Marie-Ève ​​Poliquin Karaguioules, Daniel Perreault-Marcotte, Patrick Cyr and Éric Laforge.

Éric Grenier is the alleged operator of Arubox.tv and per our 2023 report, he made no secret of his involvement in the IPTV market. Over several years, Canadian news reports have repeatedly linked Grenier to a local chapter of the Hells Angels and in that respect, police aren’t yet ruling anything out.

Danick Rouleau is the alleged operator of Stocker IPTV. The nature of the Stocker service isn’t made clear, something that also holds true for the Arubox service. The ‘signal theft’ allegations against the men imply a video capturing operation but thus far we’ve seen little to support that theory, at least in respect of Arubox.TV

Descriptions of the other suspects are currently limited to their names, but it seems likely that as the case develops, so will the media’s interest. It seems unlikely to be boring, let’s put it that way.

Were The Pirate Services Taken Down?

One curious aspect of the case is that for reasons that remain unclear, the portal through which Arubox customers watched the service seems to be at least partially operational. Attempting to access it via a web browser obviously produces an error but remains online nonetheless.

Determining whether it’s fully operational requires a subscription but in the current environment, that’s obviously best avoided. There is a way to obtain usable MAC addresses to access some portals of this type without handing over cash, but that’s most likely illegal, regardless of the nature of the service.

Fortunately, and regardless of its use of Cloudflare, Arubox’s setup allows for the identification of an IPTV server that seems to be still alive; that’s despite the raids this week and despite the action in May 2023.

That raises the question of why it hasn’t been shut down like servers in other cases involving Bell. We have no idea but the eight-minute walk from Bell HQ in Montreal to the server location probably rules out distance.

Are Subscribers Facing Arrest?

Police say that IPTV subscribers are not a target in the current action, which should put some minds at rest. However, they are advising people to return their set-top boxes to an official drop-off point at the Quebec Electronic Products Recycling Program.

Whether handing in close to top-of-the-range set-top boxes for dismantling sounds attractive will be a personal choice but the devices in themselves are not illegal. That’s good news for those who want to be kind to the environment; if there’s one thing better than recycling, it’s getting the most use out of a device before that’s even necessary.

Formuler Z10/11 devices sold by Arubox recently can be returned to factory settings in just a few seconds, leaving owners to install whatever legal apps they like from Google’s Play Store. They also outperform most smart TVs and won’t spy on your viewing habits nearly as much.

From: TF, for the latest news on copyright battles, piracy and more.

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