UK: Canterbury court sends two to prison for selling illegal boxes and services

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According to the Kent County (UK) Council, two men were sentenced for illegally selling and retransmitting broadcasts produced by Sky and BT Sports, and for enabling the unauthorized distribution of on-demand films through illicit streaming devices.

On October 21, following an investigation by Kent County Council Trading Standards, Billy Martin from London was sentenced to 21 months imprisonment and Darren Bough from Dover sentenced to two years after pleading guilty to Fraudulent Trading, Money Laundering and Copyright offences.

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His Honour Judge Rupert Lowe of the Canterbury Crown Court referred to the defendants as “a couple of Fagins” in sentencing; saying that they had “struck at the heart of online commerce” and their business was “quite simply a cheat.”

Dating back to 2019

In 2019 warrants were executed by the Kent County Council Trading Standards team in Dover and Tonbridge, where several electronic devices were seized including tailor made set-top boxes. These unlawful devices, which typically use media player applications together with installed ‘add-ons’, rendered the devices capable of accessing illicit broadcasts.

Illicit streaming devices capture in Kent County (Source: Kent County Council)

How they did it and what they made

Investigation revealed that the pair were selling different levels of membership, providing instructions on how to access programs, films and sporting events.

The illegal operation was run via Facebook and funds were received through five separate PayPal accounts. In the space of approximately 18 months the fraud made the criminals more than £540,000. Bough received £399,536 and Martin £140,568, all believed to be linked to this illegal activity. Both also pleaded guilty to laundering monies received.

Justice served

The two defendants complained that they had families that relied upon them, but Judge Lowe said the matter was “too serious” to avoid custodial sentences, and through this sentence, sent a warning to others that wish to infringe copyrights or those that choose to purchase the fraudulent subscriptions.

Read the original press release (excerpted in this article) – Pair sentenced for the sale of illegal broadcasts, Oct 21, 2022. Kent County Council

Why it matters

Clive Phillips, Operations Manager, Kent County Council, Trading Standards said: “Intellectual property crime damages the economy. It impacts on creators, avoiding tax and hampering innovation. We will investigate and take appropriate action to ensure there is a fair and legal trading environment in Kent.”

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