We're not trying to suggest you engage in piracy, but if you try to visit the world's most popular illegal streaming site this weekend, you will be met with a very nasty surprise.

123movies — also known as GoMovies — has announced it will be closing shop at the end of the week, while also encouraging users to start paying for movies and TV shows legally.

"We've been providing links to movies and shows for years. Now it's time to say goodbye. Thank you for being our friends and thanks for staying with us that long," the website wrote on a banner counting down to the closure of the site.

"PS: Please pay for the movies/shows, that's what we should do to show our respect to people behind the movies/shows."

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The shock announcement followed the website being labelled the most popular illegal site in the world following a recent investigation by the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

MPAA executive vice president and chief of global content protection Jan van Voorn said the popular illegal movie site was run from outside of the US.

"Right now, the most popular illegal site in the world, 123movies.to (at this point), is operated from Vietnam, and has 98 million visitors a month," he told VN Express.

The comments came while the MPAA was in Vietnam as part of a global campaign to deal with illegal piracy sites.

"There are more services like this," he said. "Vietnamese people need to understand that making a movie is not free of charge. Companies have to pay a lot to bring these works to the audience."

123movies has previously attracted the attention of the office of the US Trade Representative, having been listed in its latest Notorious Markets report which highlights markets engaging in and facilitating substantial copyright piracy and trademark counterfeiting.

Last year the US Ambassador to Vietnam also requested the local Government criminally prosecute 123movies and other piracy sites running from the country.

While the MPAA are happy to label 123movies as the largest piracy site in the world, TorrentFreak discovered the 98 million monthly users feel short of the Pirate Bay's estimated 282 million visitors during the same period.