After arresting a man who made over £2 million by selling set-top boxes that enabled buyers to watch premium television content without a subscription, officers of the (PIPCU) seized 1,300 of the illegal set-tops from a storage unit and another 121 from the seller’s shop.
All told, Halton Mark Anthony Powell of Hornchurch, northeast of London, made a total of £2,344,949 from the sale of 24,515 set-top boxes through his shop, website and an online marketplace.
“Powell attempted to hide the illegitimate nature of his business by concealing evidence that he was selling products pre-configured to stream Sky Sports and Sky Cinema,” said T/ Detective Sergeant Peter Gartland, of PIPCU). However, PIPCU officers were able to prove he was aware the set-top boxes were being used for this purpose by thousands of customers.
Suspect was monitored for years
The investigation was launched in March 2015 after an online marketplace reported that a large volume of set-top boxes were being sold through an account owned by Droidsticks. The company was selling set-top boxes pre-loaded with a piece of software referred to as the ‘Droidsticks Wizard’, which enabled users to install add-ons to access Sky’s sports and movie channels, as well as other premium television content. Set-top boxes that contain this software at the point of sale are illegal.
Read the PIPCU press release: Man jailed for making over £2 million from illegally pre-configured TV set-top boxes. November 11 2022.
Why it matters
After pleading guilty at Southwark Crown Court on 23 August 2022 to supplying articles for use in fraud, the suspect was sentenced to two years and six months imprisonment at the same court on 11 November 2022.
Following the sentencing, the Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that it will commence proceedings for confiscation orders against any available assets.