An international gang of internet film pirates known as the ‘Sparks Group’ has been put out of action following a series of police raids led by the US Department of Homeland Security. Police took a total of 60 servers offline in Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said:
As alleged, the defendants were members of an international video piracy ring that was sophisticated and widespread. The group allegedly circumvented copyright protections on nearly every movie released by major production studios, as well as television shows, and distributed them by way of a worldwide network of servers.
The gang obtained content prior to its official release by tricking wholesale distributors into believing they were legitimate retailers of DVDs and Blu-Rays. They then cracked the copyright-protection controls on the discs to create digital copies which were uploaded to their servers.
Three men were charged following the police raids.
- British citizen George Bridi was arrested in Cyprus; US authorities will seek his extradition.
- Jonathan Correa, also known as ‘Raid’, was arrested in Kansas.
- Umar Ahmad, also known as ‘Artist’, is a Norwegian citizen and remains at large.
You can read the US Department of Justice press release here.