Two fraudsters who illegally sold access to coverage of football’s English Premier League to commercial premises in the UK have each been handed prison sentences of three and a half years.
The convictions of Simon Hopkins and Leon Passlow have been made following a joint investigation by Surrey Police and the Federation Against Copyright Theft. The two men earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud between January 2008 and September 2012, in a prosecution by the Premier League.
Hopkins and Passlow ran a company named Digicam International Ltd which obtained hundreds of domestic use only cards for UK pay-television broadcaster and Premier League rights-holder Sky. The two men used hundreds of fake names, and long addresses in an attempt for their scam to go unnoticed.
The cards were sold on to commercial premises, including pubs, betting shops and yachts. Surrey Police said the fraud represented a loss of earnings to Sky of £591,000 (€832,000/$917,000).
A Premier League spokesman said: “A three and a half year custodial sentence sends a clear message: supplying systems which enable unauthorised broadcasts of Premier League football to be made in commercial premises is illegal.
“The supplier in this case – Digicam – was fraudulently selling cards intended for home use to commercial premises to enable unauthorised broadcasts of Premier League football. This judgement 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.”