Operator of ‘Bitcoin Invested’ Pirate Site Movie2K Charged After More Than a Decade

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More than a decade ago, Movie2K was one of the largest pirate sites on the Internet. Serving a German audience, the streaming portal shut down in 2013, but that wasn’t the end of the story. This week, a suspected operator of the site and an accomplice were charged by German authorities. The long delay is noteworthy but also lucrative; a Bitcoin haul with a current value of €3 billion was seized recently.

At the start of the 2010s, Movie2K was one of the most visited sites on the web.

The site was an early adopter of pirate streaming and at its peak, secured a spot among the twenty most-visited websites in Germany, beating Twitter and Amazon.

Movie2K’s success generated a healthy revenue stream which its operators converted to a new and exciting ‘currency’ called Bitcoin. It’s assumed that the goal was to keep the haul hidden from prying eyes, but more on that later.

The site’s reign ended with a surprise shut down in the spring of 2013. Many believed that legal troubles had plagued the site, a suspicion that was eventually confirmed years later when Dresden police announced several arrests.

Early Arrests and Prison Sentences

These initial arrests targeted one of the main operators, who received a one-year prison sentence for copyright infringement in 2023, as well as an eight-month sentence for money laundering, fraud, and tax evasion.

In the same criminal prosecution, the site’s financial agent received a ten-month suspended prison sentence. All sentences were suspended and both men issued a full confession. In addition, at least one of the defendants helped the investigation into other suspects.

 

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The authorities had also seized 2,700 bitcoins. These are currently valued at €160 million but were previously exchanged by the authorities in an “emergency sale” for 38.6 million euros. The money remains in custody pending a final decision on the fate of these criminal proceeds.

While 2,700 bitcoins was already the largest seizure in a piracy-related prosecution, this figure was topped by the nearly 50,000 bitcoins the German authorities voluntarily seized earlier this year.

Fresh Charges

This second Bitcoin heist is connected to an ongoing prosecution where the Dresden General Prosecutor’s Office announced its charges this week, more than a decade after the site shut down.

The main suspect is one of Movie2K’s main admins, who remained on the run for a long time. The 40-year-old German man has been listed as wanted internationally since 2019. He was eventually arrested in Spain last year and extradited to Germany to face prosecution.

The defendant now faces charges including unauthorized commercial exploitation of copyrighted works and commercial money laundering. The second defendant, a 37-year-old Polish man, is charged with commercial money laundering and tax evasion.

The Polish defendant was a friend of the main suspect and reportedly received a salary in Bitcoin for his work at the pirate streaming portal.

As mentioned by Tarnkappe, the crackdown and investigation into Movie2K also led to a real estate agent from Berlin who allegedly received millions of euros from the site’s operators through a Dutch mailbox company.

The Prosecutor’s Office notes that the Leipzig district court has yet to admit further charges against the real estate agent, who reportedly invested the money in physical properties.

Billions in Bitcoin

While the charges announced this week are significant, the earlier seizure of 50,000 bitcoins stands out most. These are valued at roughly 3 billion euros today and, as far as we know, they’re yet to be sold.

“The investigation into the handling of the seized Bitcoins is ongoing,” the Dresden Prosecutor’s Office notes.

It’s remarkable to see the recent developments in this case, considering that the site itself has been offline for eleven years. That said, with billions in Bitcoin at stake, perseverance seems to have paid off.

Source:  TorrentFreak TorrentFreak.com

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