The police in Saxony, eastern Germany, have seized 50,000 Bitcoin from the former operator of the pirate site movie2k.to through a voluntary deposit to a state-controlled wallet.
This is a record figure for the country’s law enforcement authorities, corresponding to over $2.1 billion at today’s Bitcoin-USD exchange rate.
Movie2k was a platform operating between 2008 and 2013 in a legal gray area, providing primarily English and German-speaking users with links to stream or download movies and TV shows but not hosting any of the copyright-protected material.
Due to its central role in piracy, Movie2k.to faced significant scrutiny and legal challenges from authorities and various entertainment industry groups, leading to multiple blocks at an ISP level and forcing the operators to change their web domains several times.
The original Movie2k.to was taken down around May 2013 following legal action by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).
With the support of FBI experts, law enforcement authorities in Germany continued to investigate the identity of the operators behind the original platform, eventually identifying a 40-year-old German and a Polish 37-year-old.
As the police announced, one of the two suspects voluntarily transferred Bitcoin to the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA).
The amounts are thought to have been acquired from profits made through the operation of Movie2k, like advertising revenue and membership subscriptions.
The platform’s operators started aggressively exchanging fiat money with Bitcoin in mid-2012, either as an investment choice or in anticipation of the legal risks of running a large-scale pirate platform, assuming cryptocurrency would be harder to trace and confiscate.
“In an investigation by the Dresden General Prosecutor’s Office, the Saxony State Criminal Police Office, and the tax investigation of the Leipzig II Tax Office as the Saxony Integrated Investigation Unit (INES), almost 50,000 Bitcoins were provisionally secured in mid-January 2024,” reads the police announcement.
“This is the most extensive security of Bitcoins by law enforcement authorities in the Federal Republic of Germany to date.”
The police say the accused individual voluntarily transferred them to wallets provided by the BKA, and the final decision for the utilization of this substantial amount is pending.
According to German news site TarnKappe, one of the two suspects was also linked to ‘mega-downloads.net,’ the operators of which the Hanover police have been trying to uncover since 2009.
In August 2020, the site’s programmer, who has been in custody since November 2019, handed over $25 million-worth of Bitcoin (at the time) to the authorities, admitting his involvement in the platform.