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Premier League broadcast pirates hit with £1m fine

Two fraudsters who supplied illegal broadcasts of Premier League football to commercial premises have been ordered by the court to pay close to £1 million (€1.14m) – which will go back into the ‘public purse’.

The individuals behind the company Digicams, Simon Hopkins and Leon Passlow, were found guilty of supplying a variety of systems allowing their customers to view live Premier League football without making appropriate payments.

On Friday 30th September at Guildford Crown Court, in the south of England, the pair were ordered to pay back £992,947.60 within three months or each face up to seven more years behind bars.

Their scam involved obtaining Sky and other viewing cards using false names and addresses and then selling them on to commercial businesses including hotels, pubs and betting shops.

They enjoyed lavish lifestyles with the proceeds of their crimes, driving expensive cars and buying thousands of pounds’ worth of jewellery.

The pair had previously been sentenced to three and a half years in prison last August, after pleading guilty to Conspiracy to Defraud between January 2008 and September 2012 following a prosecution brought by the Premier League, working together with Surrey Police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the UK’s leading trade organisation established to protect and represent the interests of its members’ Intellectual Property.

After serving his sentence Passlow, an Australian citizen, will be deported back to Australia.

“Hopkins and Passlow made hundreds of thousands of pounds through their criminal enterprise, allowing them to live lavish lifestyles and believing they would never get caught,” commented Kieron Sharp, Director General of FACT.

“The court has confiscated £992,000 of their criminal funds and the pair are already serving lengthy sentences in prison. This should serve as a strong warning that ultimately intellectual property crime does not pay.”

“Confiscation orders are often the final piece of the jigsaw following a conviction and, where applicable, provide for victims to be compensated for their losses,” advised Detective Sergeant Chris Rambour of the Surrey Police Economic Crime Unit. “Seeking a confiscation order following a conviction is a lengthy, complex process which can take many months but these figures show that the hard work, tenacity and determination of the team has most definitely paid off.”

“Securing these confiscation orders follows a complex investigation that involved working closely with our partners to ensure that these criminals were put behind bars. I hope this demonstrates our determination and reassures the public that we will leave no stone unturned to put offenders before the courts.”

A Premier League Spokesman said the case provided further evidence that companies and individuals which illegally supply Premier League football to pubs and commercial premises risk jail time for doing so. “Injunctions and significant costs awards are regularly being made in the Premier League’s favour in the Courts, and several suppliers have been jailed for illegally making systems available to commercial premises.”

“We would advise the owners and operators of hotels, pubs, betting shops and other premises interested in broadcast Premier League football to contact Sky Sports and BT Sport as they are the only broadcasters authorised to do so in this country.”

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