Following an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), a United States court has ordered the IRS to seize over $4 million worth of cryptocurrency and cash from a movie pirate.
AUDACIOUS CRIMINAL BUSINESS MODEL
The investigation into the movie piracy conspiracy began in 2013 when HSI received a tip off about two suspected illegal streaming services from PayPal. HSI then brought the case to MPAA who after an investigation, found that both sites, Noobroom.com and Noobroom7.com were distributing copyrighted content without license. Worse still, the owner was making money via subscription payments which were processed by Stripe or PayPal, as well as from ads placed on the sites. Following the findings of the investigation, a cease and desist was issued in July 2014.
A few days after this, users of the illegal streaming service received messages saying their accounts had been relocated to a new domain called Superchillin.com. The MPAA found out, continued investigations and were able to find two new websites, movietv.co and Sit2Play.com, which looked identical to Superchillin.com.
After prolonged observation, investigators were then able to identify the owner of all three illegal streaming services as Talon White who according to investigators moved all the revenue generated from his Stripe account to his personal bank accounts. In November 2018, search and seizure warrants were sent out and the case taken to a court in Oregon.
According to investigators, White received almost 80,000 payments of $9.99 between October 2015 and December 2016 alone. They also found 7611 payments of $25.49 and 5438 payments of $44.99 bringing the total to $1,223,671.24 between 2015 and 2016 from just Sit2Play and Movietv alone. Further investigations revealed 396,843 payments of different amounts of $9.99 and $44.99 amounting to about $6.3 million between October 2017 and September 2018.
U.S. GOVERNMENT SEIZES FUNDS
A statement signed by IRS Criminal Investigations Special Agent Keith Druffel reads in part:
In 2018, he was averaging revenue over $500,000 per month. In 2017, White received over $2.2 million. In 2016, White received over $1 million in revenue, and in 2014 and 2015, White received on average about $400,000 a year in revenue.
In August 2018, White received around $5.9 million in a JP Morgan Chase account which he held in the name of Viral Sensations, Inc. (VSI) . From these funds, he purchased cryptocurrency worth over $1 million from well-known crypto exchange, Coinbase.
Based on the search and seize warrant issued in November, the following were seized from White by the IRS:
2,457,790.72 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #1
$1,266,650.00 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #2
$1,383.68 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #3
$200,653.71 seized from JPMorgan Chase Bank account #4
$32,921.00 seized in US currency (cash)
$1,940.77 seized in US currency (Stripe account)
31.53810677 in BTC (Coinbase account)
1,022.39066800 in ETH (Coinbase account)
5.74017141 in BCH (Coinbase account)
According to reports, White’s legal team, led by Rain Minns maintains his innocence, claiming that he is a professional poker player and his funds can be accounted for that way. A recent statement released by Minns stated:
We don’t generally comment on a current case, but as a matter of principle the government should not grab a person’s assets and strip them of their resources unless and until proven guilty.