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A man from the UK East Midlands city of Leicester has been handed a 32-month jail sentence after a joint investigation by the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and Leicestershire Police discovered he was selling hundreds of illegal TV set-top boxes from an online marketplace.
Between February 2012 and February 2015, Mark Brighty imported hundreds of set-top boxes from China before installing firmware on them which allowed users to access Virgin Media TV services without a subscription.
In the three-year period, Brighty pocketed thousands of pounds as he sold between 200-300 illicit boxes at £40 (€57) each.
Brighty was arrested at his home in February 2015 where officers seized a number of illicit set-top boxes along with more than £600 worth of cocaine which had been hidden in a safe. Other drugs paraphernalia were also seized.
On June 12th, Brighty was charged with two offences under the Fraud Act 2006 as well as possession with intent to supply a Class A drug.
On November 3rd he pleaded guilty at Leicester Crown Court to all charges and was sentenced to 32 months’ imprisonment.
Kieron Sharp, Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) said: “Intellectual property crime is not a victimless crime – it costs the creative industries and the UK economy hundreds of millions of pounds each year. That is why FACT is committed to cracking down on individuals and criminal organisations who are financially gaining from other’s copyrighted content.
“This case demonstrates that copyright theft is often considered by criminals to be a low risk activity with high returns and so is often used to fund other serious organised crime; in this case dealing Class A drugs. Hopefully this significant sentence will be a warning to others who may be involved in or considering a similar illegal enterprise.”