Eight people in the UK have been arrested during a worldwide raid on a software piracy ring, which is said to be the biggest swoop yet in the battle against internet-related crime.
The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), working alongside the US Customs Service Cyber Smuggling Team, yesterday cracked a multimillion pound global internet piracy organisation known as 'Drink or Die'. Computer hardware and software was seized.
Eight men in their twenties and thirties, including several employed in IT management or consultancy, were arrested for alleged conspiracy to defraud in North Staffordshire, Kent, Merseyside and London.
In all, almost 80 search warrants were executed across the UK, the US, Australia, Finland and Norway.
'Drink or Die' is allegedly responsible for pirating millions of pounds worth of software, games, music and digital videos, such as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, through underground internet sites worldwide.
The organisation, said to be one of the largest and most sophisticated international 'warez' operations, is thought to consist of around 1,500 members and is responsible for pirating over $1bn worth of software annually.
Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU, said: "This was a painstaking investigation which involved my officers working in partnership with other law enforcement agencies in using the very latest technology to combat this type of crime.
"The NHTCU is sending out a powerful message to people who may wish to commit these types of crime - that policing is matching them every step of the way to ensure we protect individuals, business, industry and government from all forms of hi-tech crime."
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