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Racing Driver Arrested as Police Target Thailand’s Largest & Oldest Torrent Site

By iptv.legal , in Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment Anti-Piracy royal thai police Takedowns and Seizures Thailand , at February 20, 2024

hacker-coderPress releases announcing the shutdown of yet another pirate site, more arrests, and what that means for the entertainment industry, are nothing out of the ordinary. In particularly busy periods, simply determining where one batch ends and another begins can present challenges.

Yet in many cases, even the most straightforward reports have much more going on just below the surface. An announcement published Monday by the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment is clear, quite detailed, but also conservative in respect of reporting events behind the scenes.

The matter involves the oldest and most likely the largest torrent site in Thailand, a platform described by the most powerful rightsholders in the United States as a priority enforcement target for at least seven years. Yet only now, 18 years after the site first launched, have local authorities taken any visible action.

If policy recently changed in Thailand, there’s no obvious indication of when that took place or what it might be. The official page to provide tips about illegal services on the police website still doesn’t work and known complications simmering in this particular case haven’t been mentioned either.

ACE Outlines The Main Facts

The key details, as reported by ACE on Monday, read as follows:

The Royal Thai Police’s Economic Crimes Department (ECD), with support from the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), has raided four locations in Bangkok, Surin Province and Surat Thani. Four Thai nationals have been taken into custody and are expected to be formally charged with copyright offenses in the coming days.

Siambit.me was the largest torrent tracker site in Thailand with average monthly visits of 5.5 million, and which provided access to a huge range of Hollywood, international and Thai content.

The site had been in operation since 2005 and is known to regularly change its domain to avoid detection. According to statements by the Royal Thai Police, Siambit.me had over 100,000 VIP members and the operators were making an estimated 1.5 million baht (USD $41,000) on a monthly basis.

The 5.5 million visits reported here align exactly with data reported by SimilarWeb, so we’ll put that aside for now. The reference to 100,000 VIP members indicates those paying a fee each month. The lowest monthly fee reported recently was just 99 baht with the highest at 499 baht, so roughly $2.70 to almost $14.00 per month.

The higher monthly rate of $14.00 makes little to no sense in any context while the claim that 1.5 million baht was generated each month could in theory suggest around 15,000 members paying 99 baht each. If 100,000 members paid even the minimum rate each month, no figures from any source combine to produce a sensible total, so perhaps more information will emerge to clarify the situation.

Images of Police Action Emerge

Images that began circulating late last week seem to confirm that the authorities had good intelligence. Photographs such as the one featuring a server room below appear to have been taken at the home of the main suspect.

siambit_servers1

When trying to establish a timeline for the events reported a few days ago a confusing picture emerged. In fact, to make any sense of these events we needed to go back, not just days, but several weeks.

Thai Police & ACE Took Sites Down in January

On January 19, 2024, we provided background on an ACE announcement detailing the shutdown of 27 Thai-focused sites, each reliant on a common infrastructure provided as a service by the website IAMTHEME.com.

Around January 17, officers from the Central Investigation Bureau were preparing an operation to enforce the country’s strict pornography laws; in Thailand it’s illegal to distribute porn, possess it, or produce it.

The bureau’s target was the suspected operator of numerous sites including xxxporn678.com, 037movie-hd.com, dooball678.com, movie678.com, and 678-hd.com. The first domain seems to have majored on illegal adult content while the rest appeared to focus on pirated movies and pirated live football streams.

678-trash

The common denominator for all sites was a) a reliance on services offered by IAMTHEME.com and b) offering porn illegally and/or generating revenue illegally from online gambling advertising.

Combinations like these are an effective way to attract Thai authorities, who will shut sites down and arrest their operators. And that’s exactly what happened here. Items seized included four computers, eight mobile phones, and more than a dozen bank accounts.

Dominoes Start to Fall

Not long after the operator of xxxporn678 and the other sites was arrested, police began investigating the operator of IAMTHEME. On or around February 2, he too was placed under arrest, most likely for similar reasons.

At some point, police determined that their latest suspect was either sourcing his porn and pirated movies from SiamBit or was otherwise connected to the site and/or its operator. That triggered a series of events that led to Thailand’s largest torrent site becoming the focus of the ACE announcement published on Monday.

A source who asked not to be identified said that police initially expanded their investigation to identify the person in charge at SiamBit. Armed with a search warrant dated February 7 issued by a local court, on February 9 they targeted the home of a man in his late thirties* suspected of running the group that controls the site.
*the suspect is believed to be either 38 or 40

SiamBit2

According to the authorities, SiamBit had 10,000 VIP members, together paying around 1.5 million baht to its operators every month. For balance, we have also seen references to ‘100,000 members’ but without any mention of money. SiamBits’ tracker data obtained by TF shows a peak of almost a million peers while reporting over 200,000 members.

It’s possible that the focus will end up being a monetary value, but whether that will be linked to porn and gambling, copyright infringement, or both, is still unclear.

At least initially, police focused on suspected crimes under Section 287 of the Thai Penal Code. Section 287 makes it beyond clear that any kind of dealing in pornographic content is a criminal offense, punishable by a fine, a prison sentence, or both.

Section 287 Thai Penal Code

While we were able to positively identify all four main suspects by name and home address, details here are limited to their initials, arrest location, alleged role, and reported age.

CW: Sai Mai District. SiamBit operator and famous professional racing driver (38/40)
PB: Chatuchak District. Financial controller (54)
WNK: Surin Province. Website/systems administrator (42)
NSWW: Surat Thani Province. Administrator, community manager (53)

Several images made available by the authorities allegedly feature the suspected operator of SiamBits but whether all show the same person isn’t entirely clear.

On the top row, images one and two show the same person at the same location, dressed in a light blue t-shirt, face blurred. However, the person with his face obscured in image three at the bottom seems to more closely match press images of the racing driver named as the main suspect.

That raises the question of why the person in image three is wearing completely different clothes than those worn by the suspect in one and two.

suspects

Other apparent anomalies include the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment referencing the domain Siambit.me, which as far as we can establish is indeed the site’s main domain.

Locally there appears to be greater interest in Siambit.io, which at the time of writing redirects to Google. Meanwhile, the .me variant currently redirects to a Telegram channel with over 18,700 members.

Thai authorities confirm that their interest in SiamBit was raised due to complaints from companies in the movie industry. In its statement published yesterday, the anti-piracy group said that copyright infringement charges are expected in the next few days.

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

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