AFP confiscates AU$1.7m from Sydney man who stole Netflix, Spotify, Hulu accounts
Australian Federal Police (AFP) has ordered an individual to forfeit AU$1.66 million for stealing the log-ins and passwords for Hulu, Netflix, and Spotify accounts.
The culprit, based in Sydney, conspired with another individual from the US to steal the log-ins and passwords of streaming service customers and then sold them online at a cheaper rate.
The AFP began investigating the matter in May 2018, after it was tipped by the FBI about a now-defunct account generator website called WickedGen.com.
WickedGen was a website that sold stolen account details for online subscription services, including Netflix, Spotify, and Hulu. The account details belonged to unknowing victims in Australia and internationally, including the US.
The Sydney individual was found to be the creator, administrator, and primary financial beneficiary of WickedGen and three other sites that offered similar services. Across the four websites, the offender had over 150,000 registered users and provided almost 86,000 subscriptions to illegally access legitimate streaming services.
The Sydney-based individual pleaded guilty to stealing these log-ins and passwords in October last year. After the guilty plea, the AFP’s Criminal Assets Confiscation Taskforce (CACT) obtained restraining orders over the individual’s cryptocurrency, and bank and PayPal accounts that were held under false names.
All up, the AFP has collected AU$1.66 million from the charged individual, with AU$1.2 million of that amount being cryptocurrency.
The funds will be redistributed by the Department of Home Affairs for supporting crime prevention, law enforcement, and community-safety related initiatives, the AFP said.
The charged individual will now face a two years and two months prison sentence.
The use of online subscriptions have been on the rise in Australia, with almost the same number of Australians watching content from online subscription streaming services, like Netflix, when compared to those who watch free-to-air television.
The findings, published by the Australian Bureau of Communications, Arts and Regional Research, found that the popularity of over-the-top services have continued to grow as 70% of Australians watched this type of content as of the end of last year, which is almost triple the amount from 2016.