Three men have been arrested in Chorley on suspicion of distributing illegally modified TV set-top boxes across the world.
Detectives carried out a series of raids at a business premise and three homes in the town as part of the investigation.
Three men aged 36, 40 and 58, have been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering offences. They are currently in custody.
Officers from City of London police and Lancashire police recovered approximately 30 servers and set-top boxes which are believed to have been modified with illegal software to enable them access to hundreds of paid-for subscription-only channels. Some of the channels available on the devices include pay-per-view sports, the latest movies and UK broadcast television only available to UK licence fee payers. Officers have also identified 15 satellite dishes during their searches.
The PIPCU investigation established that illegally modified devices were widely available to buy on the internet. Enquires then showed that the devices were being marketed as genuine and legitimate for use anywhere in the world, or a yearly fee of around £400.
The PIPCU-led enquiry is ongoing, with support from licensing experts and broadcasters across the globe.
The head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Ratcliffe said: “Our action will disrupt what we understand to be a significant and highly resourced operation to distribute pirated television on an industrial scale to tens of thousands of people across the globe.
“Operations like this remain an integral part of protecting livelihoods supported by the entertainment industry and the law abiding public who pay for their channels with their hard earned cash.
“Furthermore If you make a purchase from a counterfeit or pirate website you put yourself at risk from identity theft.
“Our investigations have identified over 600 people whose personal and payment details have fallen into the wrong hands after they have made purchases on fake websites.
“In all cases we have informed each individual and provided them with advice on how to stay safe online.”
Director general of the Federation Against Copyright Theft, Kieron Sharp, said: “Illegally modified set-top boxes, along with infringing apps and add-ons, have created new opportunities for criminality and piracy.
“Tackling these threats and the people behind them is one of our highest priorities and therefore today’s multi-agency action is another great result for law enforcement and the creative industries.
“We will continue to work with our members and partners, such as the City of London Police, to crack down on those involved in the illegal supply of these boxes so that both the content and its creators are protected.”