Streaming pirate extradited from Cyprus to the UK to serve prison term of nearly 5 years

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Back in June 2022, Michael Hornung had been sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment following conviction by a jury for selling and advertising unauthorized decoders for use in fraud over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017.  But sentencing could not be carried out because Hornung had fled the UK for Cyprus.

On June 2, 2024, Hornung was arrested in Cyprus by Cypriot authorities following a collaborative effort between UK-based FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) and the UK National Crime Agency (NCA). The NCA facilitated arrangements for his extradition and, after an in-country extradition hearing, Hornung consented to return to the UK.

FACT had commenced the investigation on Hornung in April 2014 when, following a test purchase of a device, it was subsequently proven that it enabled access to numerous channels from Virgin’s cable subscription service, including Sky Sports and Sky Movies, without any payment being made.

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It was estimated that the rights holders and broadcasters suffered losses of £2 million over the period from 2014 to 2017, while generating approximately £350,000 in fraudulent income to Hornung.

In September 2022, Hornung was sentenced for supplying articles for use in fraud, contrary to Section 7(1) of the UK’s Fraud Act 2006, and for selling an unauthorized decoder, contrary to Section 297A(I)(a) of the UK Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988; and for advertising unauthorized decoders for sale, which violated Section 297A(I)(d) of the Copyright, Designs, and Patents Act 1988.  At the time, he also was ordered to pay £258,642.95 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002

Hornung admitted to the bail act offense for leaving the UK for Cyprus, which added 12 weeks to his original prison sentence of four years and six months

Further reading:

UK man who fled to Cyprus jailed in UK for illegal TV operation.  Press release. June 17, 2024. FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft)

UK: Supplier of illegal streaming devices gets £258k fine and possible prison. Article. Sept 13, 2022. Piracy Monitor

Four years and six-month jail sentence for pirate TV supplier.  Press release. June 17, 2022. FACT

Why it matters

The extradition from Cyprus demonstrates how long the “long arm of the law” can be.

“Hornung’s criminal business provided customers the means to access premium TV without compensating broadcasters or those with intellectual property rights.  This conviction underscores our commitment to tackling fraud and piracy at all levels and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable,” said Kieron Sharp, CEO of FACT.

FACT works with sports rights holders, broadcast partners, and others across the spectrum of the audio-visual industry to investigate and prosecute suppliers of illegal streaming services and other piracy crimes, as well as those accessing illegal content.

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