A man who sold illegal devices that bypassed paid-for TV content – costing legitimate service providers more than £2 million (€2.25m) – has been jailed.
Daniel Aimson was sentenced to 12 months in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud at Manchester Crown Court in the northwest of England.
In 2017, Greater Manchester Police (GMP) launched a joint investigation alongside UK intellectual property protection organisation FACT into Aimson, who was a serving GMP police officer at the time. Investigations confirmed Aimson was involved in managing a company that produced IPTV devices that allowed access to content such as sport and films that typically require a monthly subscription.
The company also sold streaming services allowing anything between 48 hours to six months access to paid-for content. The pass enabled the viewer to log on to an online portal where paid-for content was available without the need for a physical IPTV device.
Financial intelligence quickly identified bank accounts linked to the company to which thousands of pounds were being transferred in an effort to conceal the proceeds from their illicit business.
Over a seven-month period between January and August 2017, the turnover for just one of the accounts linked to the company was in excess of £300,000, none of which was declared to HMRC. Further analysis of the account revealed that between September 2016 and May 2017, approximately 1,640 illicit IPTV devices were sold.
On September 5th 2017 Aimson was arrested at his home address and a number of items were recovered implicating him in the fraud. He was immediately suspended from his role with the police.
A satellite TV provider who carried out a cost analysis of Aimson’s illicit activities deemed that the loss to that company alone was more than £924,000. The loss to the same satellite TV provider from Aimson’s online portal streaming service was estimated to be £1,200,000.
“Aimson was making enormous amounts of money from what he knew to be an illegal activity,” asserted Detective Constable Paul Bayliss of Greater Manchester Police. “He was a police employee with a good career. That is now in tatters and he’s facing a lengthy prison sentence during which to contemplate his foolish and deceitful actions. I’d like to thank our partners at FACT whose hard work and diligence helped us bring the prosecution. This type of crime costs legitimate companies millions each year in loss of revenue, which ultimately results in a loss to the exchequer. This sentencing should serve as a message to those who think they can access or provide such content without consequences: you are breaking the law, costing the country money and we will do everything in our power to prosecute such offending.”
“This result is an excellent example of the serious actions taken against those who provide illicit content through streaming services,” added Kieron Sharp, FACT Chief Executive. “Individuals are motivated by the financial benefits from providing illegal content, but FACT is leading the way in combatting digital piracy and has worked closely with Greater Manchester Police to hold these suppliers accountable for their actions.”
“We thank Greater Manchester Police for their work on this and FACT will continue to monitor channels used to advertise, market, sell and distribute apps, devices and streams to take action against suppliers and operators.”
“If you come across any content that doesn’t look legitimate, FACT works with Crimestoppers to make it easy for you to report it,” he advised.