Football TV Fraudsters Ordered To Pay Back Nearly £1m

factConvicted criminals who illegally sold on access to Premier League football coverage have been ordered to pay back nearly £1m thanks to successful orders made under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

Simon Hopkins and Leon Passlow, were jailed in August 2015 following a joint investigation by Surrey Police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT).

They have been ordered to pay back £992,947.60 following a number of successful confiscations and forfeiture orders following a hearing at Guildford Crown Court on Friday (September 30). They have to pay back the money by January 3 2017 or they will each have to serve a further six years behind bars.

The pair were sentenced at Guildford Crown Court having earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud between January 2008 and September 2012, in a prosecution by the Football Association Premier League (FAPL).

Specialist officers from the Force’s Economic Crime Unit and FACT worked together to uncover the scam which defrauded broadcaster BskyB who have the rights to the coverage of the Premier League competition which is run by the FAPL.

Hopkins and Passlow ran a company in Bagshot which obtained hundreds of domestic use only BskyB cards, using hundreds of fake names, and long addresses in an attempt for their scam to go unnoticed.

Those cards were then sold on to commercial premises, including pubs, betting shops and yachts.

Although the companies paid a large one-off premium for the cards, they made huge savings on their monthly fees in the long run. They were also under strict instructions not to contact BskyB directly or they would face having subscription cancelled.

The investigation started in May 2012 following complaints made to the FAPL from broadcasters and members of the public about the company – Digicam International Ltd (DIL) – who were also advertising their services on the internet.

DIL’s website and paperwork given to subscribers carried warning messages not to contact the broadcaster directly or it would ‘kill your subscription’.

The defendant’s homes were searched in September 2012 where payslips and paperwork was found that showed DIL had a turnover of almost £2m a year. The company based in High Street, Bagshot was also searched and had signs on the walls warning that legal action would be taken against anybody associated with the FAPL or FACT entering the property.

Detective Sergeant Chris Rambour of the Surrey Police Economic Crime Unit, said: “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. 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.”

Director General of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), Kieron Sharp, said “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.

“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.”

A Premier League Spokesman said: “This case provides 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.”

Hopkins, 47, of Park Road, Stoke Poges, Slough, Berkshire and Passlow 58, of Broomfield Drive, Ascot, Berkshire were both sentenced to three and a half years each in August 2015.