Two sellers of illegal BSkyB have been jailed for 3.5 years. Leon Passlow and Simon Hopkins were found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud after obtaining hundreds of cards under false pretences and then selling them on illegally to businesses.
Between January 2008 and September 2012 Passlow and Hopkins sold a number of BSkyB viewing cards to pubs, bookmakers and other businesses so that they could screen Premier League football to their clientèle. However, the cards that the two men sold were only intended for domestic use and had been obtained by the duo under fake names.
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.”