Sales of illegal streaming devices land 3 in jail

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Own goal: more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes were supplied with streaming services illegally
Own goal: more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes were supplied with streaming services illegally

Related tags: Sky sports, Bt sport, Sports bar

A crackdown on the sales of illegal streaming devices by police has landed three in prison for a total of 17 years for defrauding the Premier League.

The trio provided illegal access to Premier League football to more than 1,000 pubs, clubs and homes across England and Wales, earning in excess of £5m.

Operators of the pirate streaming organisation were handed the longest jail sentences for piracy-related crimes last month for a conspiracy to defraud.

The so-called ‘mastermind’ of the operation, Steven King, was sentenced to seven years and four months in prison.

Paul Rolston received a sentence of six years and four months, while Daniel Malone was handed a sentence of three years and three months.

All men were found guilty of fraud by a jury at Warwick Crown Court, following a four-week trial.

The business traded under the name of Dreambox unincorporated, Dreambox TV Limited and Digital Switchover Limited through various websites.

Decade-long operation

“The operation used a range of technologies to continue their fraud over the course of a decade,” said the Premier League in a statement.

“Most recently, the defendants engaged various third parties, located in the UK and across Europe, to create illegal broadcast streams, which they then sold on to their customers.”

Suppliers to the business included Terry O’Reilly, who was given a four-year prison sentence in 2016 for a conspiracy to defraud the Premier League and its pay-TV providers.

During the illegal activity, content from over 20 global broadcasters was gathered and distributed through the platforms.

The methods allowed users to access paid content for free and without the permission of the broadcasters and property owners.

In handing down the sentences, the judge described the operation as a “dishonest, dodgy business.”

The defendants’ serious attempts to frustrate broadcasters’ efforts in investigating the fraud, which included the use of logo-blocking and watermarking techniques, was an ‘aggravating feature’ in the length of sentences.

The judge also condemned “profoundly dishonest” publicans for profiting from the service themselves without paying the broadcasters.

Premier League director of legal services Kevin Plumb said: “Today’s decision has provided further evidence that the law will catch up with companies and individuals that defraud owners’ rights and breach copyright. The custodial sentences issued here reflect the seriousness and the scale of the crimes.”

Identity theft risk

Plumb continued: “Using these services is unlawful, and fans should be aware that when they do so, they enter into agreements with illegal businesses.

“They also risk being victims of fraud or identity theft by handing over personal data and financial details.

“The Premier League's investment into cutting-edge technology, combined with wide-ranging anti-piracy actions such as the one here today and the continuing landmark blocking injunction, means that it has never been more difficult for football piracy to operate in the UK.”

FACT director general Kieron Sharp said: “The result of this case demonstrates that the illegal streaming of, and illegal access to, Premier League football is a serious crime.

“This was a criminal enterprise whose only function was to make money from defrauding the Premier League and the legitimate broadcasters.

“For those people using services such as this, do not think that this is a grey area – it is not, it is breaking the law.

“Do not think it is a victimless crime – it is not, it puts thousands of ordinary people’s jobs at risk. Do not think that the internet provides anonymity – it does not.”

Related topics: Legislation

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