A copyright watchdog in the Netherlands discovered that a Dutch man was selling stolen streaming accounts on the internet. The suspect agreed to pay a fine to the company. Local news outlets reported that the man acquired the stolen accounts from the dark web.
According to the Dutch news publication destentor.nl, the 26-year-old suspect of Zwolse, Overijssel, the Netherlands created and operated a website on the internet where he allegedly sold hacked accounts for streaming services, such as Spotify and Netflix. The Dutch copyright watchdog BREIN (Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland), identified the illegal activities of the man and started an investigation against him.
The copyright watchdog stated that the 26-year-old made no effort to hide his activities.
“The average consumer could find his website without much effort. We have found a number of other similar websites. We are now investigating. There are a handful of sites we are after,” Tim Kuik, director of BREIN, said in a statement.
According to BREIN, the 26-year-old suspect searched and found the data of “a few hundred people” on dark web hacking forums. Many consumers use the same password for multiple digital services, which made it difficult for the suspect to find the correct passwords from unsuspecting streaming service subscribers. Mr. Kuik said there is a good chance that the 26-year-old committed computer fraud, however, that part of the investigation is the matter of the police.
BREIN’s primary activity includes investigations against distributors of illegal copies of movies.
“While it was legal films, they were spread further than where their permission was given by paying subscribers. The man has been able to operate for a couple of weeks,” Mr. Kuik said.
The director does not expect that law enforcement authorities will prosecute the 26-year-old for his deeds.
“The website is out of the air, in our experience, they will not go back there anymore. But if the judiciary wants something, they will find us,” Mr. Kuik added.
BREIN used private investigators to track down the 26-year-old. However, the copyright watchdog did not disclose the methods of the investigation. The investigators contacted and kept in touch with the 26-year-old until BREIN had enough data to track him. The copyright watchdog struck a settlement of 10,000 euros with him. Mr. Kuik stated that they found the amount of the payment reasonable for the copyright infringement the 26-year-old caused to the affected companies and users. However, he added that if the man starts selling hacked streaming accounts again, they will launch other investigations demanding a higher rate of fines from him.
Mr. Kuik reported that BREIN has notified the victims whose accounts were compromised and were sold by the 26-year-old. According to the director of the copyright watchdog, the stolen accounts belonged to users all over the world.