Illegal BSkyB Card Sellers Receive Jail Sentence

They operated a fully-fledged and profitable business selling illegal viewing cards, trading as a Limited Company called Digicam. They used fake names to fraudulently obtain hundreds of domestic BSkyB viewing cards, and then sold them on for use in place of more expensive commercial viewing licenses. This resulted in an estimated £591,000 worth of lost earnings for BSkyB. According to paperwork recovered from the business by police, the turnover of the business was around £2 million.

Passlow and Hopkins appeared at Guildford Crown Court to be tried for conspiracy to commit fraud. Both men admitted their activities and pleaded guilty to the charges levelled against them. Each was given a custodial sentence of 42 months.

The prosecution against Passlow and Hopkins was brought by the Football Association Premier League (FAPL). A spokesperson for the premier league said that the decision to hand three-and-a-half year jail terms handed to each of the two men “sends a clear message: supplying systems which enable unauthorised broadcasts of Premier League football to be made in commercial premises is illegal.”

The judgement in this case, the spokesperson continues, sends this important message not just to those who might consider supplying illegal viewing cards as the defendants did, but also to the kinds of businesses who were buying the cards. “to the pub industry, and other businesses which show live football.” It “serves as a reminder to the pub industry, and other businesses which show live football, that Sky Sports and BT Sport are the only authorised broadcasters of live Premier League football in the UK.”

Surrey Police’s Detective Sergeant Chris Rambour, of the economic crime unit, said that the police will now take further action against Passlow and Hopkins. The next step for the police in this case, he said, will be taking steps “to confiscate any assets acquired by the defendants as a result of these offences” in line with the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. This act allows the state to confiscate the profits of illegal activities to be used for purposes such as reimbursing and compensating victims of the crime.

Rambour also praised the efforts that his colleagues have put into the case so far, describing it as “a complex investigation which involved working closely with our partners to see that these criminals were put behind bars.”


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