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Arrested IT engineer had six distributors to promote app, dealt in bitcoin: Mumbai police

Police said the accused, Satish Venkateshvarlu, had six distributors for his app for different regions. He and the distributors allegedly conducted financial transactions in bitcoin to stay under the radar.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: July 16, 2021 1:02:47 am
A source said apart from Thop TV, there were several such apps that are using software which takes content from OTT platforms and TV channels and display it.

The 28-year-old IT engineer arrested from Hyderabad for allegedly showcasing pirated content from OTT platforms and satellite channels on an app launched by him had a complete setup, including distributors who pushed his app on social media platforms like Telegram.

Police said the accused, Satish Venkateshvarlu, had six distributors for his app for different regions. He and the distributors allegedly conducted financial transactions in bitcoin to stay under the radar.

An official from state cyber police said given the popularity his app gained during lockdown – 5,000 paid subscribers and over a lakh monthly users – he had deployed six distributors who popularised the platform – Thop TV – on social media platforms.

“He told us that the money collected by them was handed over to him using cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. While it’s easy to trace financial transactions through banks, we are taking technical help to trace the cryptocurrency link from them to him,” the official added.

A source said apart from Thop TV, there were several such apps that are using software which takes content from OTT platforms and TV channels and display it.

They function on similar lines as OTT platforms and for subscriptions as low as Rs 35 per month, one would get ad-free content while free subscription would come with ads, the source added. Users would get the link on Telegram channels and would get a promo code in case they applied for subscription.

“We have found that after we took action against this one platform, several such apps have shut shop. We are, however, on the lookout for them and will be taking action against anyone who showcases pirated content.”

The state cyber police had registered an FIR in this case after Viacom 18 Media Private Limited along with other broadcasters approached them with a complaint against Thop TV.

Based on it, police tracked down the accused from Hyderabad and placed him under arrest. He is currently in police custody.

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