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Most pirate film/TV websites contain malware and scams

97% of the most visited illegal film and TV sites contain malware or credit card scams according to a report by the Industry Trust for Intellectual Property Awareness.

Computer Virus

The group whose members include Amazon, BBC Worldwide, HMV, BSkyB, Sony and Walt Disney analysed 30 of the most visited sites offering access to copyright infringing material, and indicated only one was free of such threats.

The rogue sites are also rife with credit card scams, with over two thirds (67%) of the 30 sites containing credit card fraud. In total, just one of the 30 pirate sites monitored over a two week period showed no signs of malware or credit card fraud.

Malware disguised as innocent looking buttons

The research reveals the extent of malware hidden on pirate sites. Most commonly the malware is disguised behind innocent looking ‘Play’ buttons which viewers unwittingly click on thinking it will play the film or TV show, but which actually trigger the malware or other programmes to start downloading onto the device.

Top tips to avoid hidden malware:

  • Start by visiting – a one-stop shop where you can find all films, all above board, all in one place.The website shows films in all formats where they’re available legally.
  • Beware of multiple ‘Play’ or ‘Download’ buttons on a site – they are designed to trick you into potentially downloading unwanted software onto your computer. If you’re uncertain, close the page and head to or to find a verified legal site.
  • Don’t be fooled by well-known brands and logos – pirate sites often use tactics to look like official sites such as incorporating well known payment services, carrying adverts from global big name brands and promoting themselves through social media channels, so look for a website name you know and trust.
  • Update your anti-virus – keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware/adware software up-to-date but be aware that this will not protect you from every threat.
  • Don’t hand over credit card details unless you know the site – Sites may provide a secure (https) connection when asking for your credit card details but can still be a scam site. Only hand them over if you’re certain the site is trustworthy.

DCI Andy Fyfe, Head of the Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) at City of London Police, said: “People need to know that by visiting copyright infringing websites they are running the risk of having their personal details stolen and used fraudulently, as well as exposing their computer to malicious malware and viruses. Consumers can easily avoid these risks by making sure they only use legitimate websites to access content such as films, music and books and by regularly updating their antivirus software.”

For further information on the research visit the Industry Trust website.
Please note that Action Fraud is not responsible for the content of external websites.
To report a fraud and receive a police crime reference number, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or use our online fraud reporting tool.

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