German Police Seize $30M in Crypto From Streaming Site Operator

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After a lengthy joint investigation with the American FBI, German police have seized over 25 millions euros worth of cryptocurrency associated with the illegal movie streaming site movie2k.to.

Shuttered in spring 2013 due to copyright infringement concerns, the site’s two main operators are accused of having distributed over 880,000 pirated copies of films, together with their accomplices, via the site between fall 2018 and spring 2013. They have been charged with operating an illegal streaming service, which enabled users to watch pirated films without downloading them.

One of the two, who worked as the site’s programmer, has been in police custody since November 2019. 

Streaming site revenue was used to acquire Bitcoin and real estate

On Aug. 3, the Dresden Public Prosecutor’s Office, supported by the State Criminal Police Office in Saxony and the Leipzig Tax Investigation Department announced that the programmer had cooperated in forfeiting over 25 million euros ($29.6 million) worth of Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).

Since mid-2012, the two main operators are alleged to have used profits from advertising fees on movie2k.to and subscription revenue to buy large amounts of Bitcoin. 

The site’s programmer is alleged to have acquired in excess of 22,000 BTC from this, later using the crypto primarily to acquire various properties via a Berlin real estate firm.

He is also reportedly under suspicion of commercial money laundering in connection with his activities as a real estate entrepreneur in Berlin.

Tracing and identifying the associated Bitcoin was reportedly carried out through joint investigative work between the German Federal Criminal Police Office and the FBI.

The forfeited Bitcoin has been seized as damage reparation by the public prosecutor after their voluntary release by the defendant. 

The programmer has now comprehensively confessed to the charges and is reported to be supporting  law enforcement authorities in their further investigations into the second main operator, who remains on the run.

As German newspaper Der Spiegel has reported, movie2k.to was — alongside kino.to and neu.to — one of the world’s leading platforms for the distribution of illegal pirated movies for years . 

In 2012, the main founder and operator of kino.to was sentenced to a prison term of up to four and a half years.