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TV fraud gang given jail terms for making millions by illegally streaming Premier League games

A TV fraud gang have been handed lengthy jail terms for making millions by illegally streaming Premier League games, causing quite a stir.

Five men have been sentenced to a combined total of 30 years in prison for illegally streaming Premier League football games.

The gang of between 30 and 48-year-olds sold TV sticks to their customers, allowing them to watch live games not broadcast by UK broadcasters because of the blackout at 3pm.

BBC reported that 50,000 subscribers contributed more than £7m to the operation, which was described as being the largest ever.

Flawless TV, a service offered by the group, was charged at £10 per monthly. A similar subscription to Sky Sports or BT Sports costs between £60 and £80 per month.


The individuals behind three pirate streaming organisations, which offered illegal access to watch Premier League matches, have today been jailed for a total of 30 years and seven months.

In what is understood to be the world’s largest-ever prosecution of an illegal streaming network, five people were sentenced at Chesterfield Justice Centre after being found guilty of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and contempt of court.

Trading under the names, Flawless, Shared VPS and Optimal (also known as Cosmic), the fraudulent operations generated in excess of £7million in just five years.

The illegal-streaming businesses involved more than 50,000 customers and resellers, and 30 employees, one of which was positioned undercover at a specialist anti-piracy company. The organisations offered illegal access to watch Premier League matches, hundreds of channels from around the world and tens of thousands of on-demand films and TV shows.

All but one of the defendants, including Mark Gould, 36, who masterminded the operation and was one of the original co-founders, eventually pleaded guilty to all charges against them. Gould, who was described by the judge as the driving force of the conspiracy, was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

William Brown, 33, from Stoke-on-Trent, who pleaded not guilty, falsely claimed to have been an undercover informant acting in the interests of law enforcement authorities and broadcasters.

However, he was instead using his expert technical skills to hack legitimate customers’ accounts to access and copy streams and intended for them to take the blame if identified by the authorities. In February this year, following a seven-week trial, Brown was unanimously found guilty by the jury.

The investigation and prosecution by the Premier League also found significant evidence of other serious criminality. Christopher Felvus, 36, from Pontypool, has subsequently been convicted of multiple unrelated offences, including being in possession of indecent child imagery.

In addition, materials seized from Gould resulted in his further arrest by the Metropolitan Police as he attempted to leave the country. He is now the subject of another ongoing separate criminal investigation, which the Premier League is assisting.

In handing down the sentences, the Judge described a sophisticated offence involving significant planning and expertise, which involved the hacking of legitimate customers in the UK and abroad.

The investigation and prosecution undertaken by the Premier League was supported by a number of organisations including Hammersmith & Fulham Council’s Trading Standards team and the intellectual property protection organisation, FACT.

Kevin Plumb, Premier League General Counsel, said: “Today’s sentencing is the result of a long and complex prosecution of a highly sophisticated operation. The sentences handed down, which are the longest sentences ever issued for piracy-related crimes, vindicate the efforts made to bring these individuals to justice and reflect the severity and extent of the crimes.

“This prosecution is another concrete example of the clear links between piracy and wider criminality, a warning we repeatedly make. While most Premier League fans enjoy watching our games in a safe way, those who were customers of these services were effectively supporting individuals involved in other sinister and dangerous organised crime.

“This was a hugely challenging case, and we are extremely grateful for the hard work and expertise of the authorities who supported us, in particular the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham Trading Standards who coordinated the investigation and worked with law enforcement agencies across the country.

“The Premier League’s substantial financial contribution to the entire football pyramid is made possible through the ability to sell our broadcast rights. We are pleased that through rulings such as this, the courts continue to show that they recognise the importance of safeguarding the Premier League’s rights. We will continue to protect our rights and our fans by investigating and prosecuting illegal operators at all levels.”

FACT CEO, Kieron Sharp, added: “FACT were delighted to support the Premier League on this landmark case, which is a powerful reminder that piracy is a serious crime with severe consequences. The successful result was made possible thanks to the invaluable support of numerous law enforcement agencies, including the Trading Standards teams from the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and Birmingham City Council, and the Metropolitan, Lancashire, Gwent, and West Midlands police services. We were additionally assisted by the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) and the Government Agency Intelligence Network (GAIN).

“I would like to express our sincere thanks to all those agencies for their invaluable support, which has resulted in the dismantling of a major organised crime operation and reiterates the importance of protecting the rights of creators and content owners.”

The Premier League has one of the most comprehensive anti-piracy programmes in the world, working with broadcast partners and authorities to bring down illegal streams and investigate and prosecute suppliers of illegal streaming services.

Here’s what Twitter users said after finding out that TV fraud gang were given jail terms for making millions by illegally streaming Premier League games…

@ninety_six96: It’s time for all games to be legally available. The argument that say Tranmere will see lower attendances if Liverpool’s game is on TV/online is nonsense. In this country we pay far more and get far less of our own football than other countries around the world.

@frasinho8814: Sky and bt should be doing time not these guys.

@ant_nffc: The premier league need to take a leaf out of apple and Spotify book. They stopped music pirating by making it affordable and accessible.

@Jpallenn: The fans in the clip summed it up, its our national sport yet we are the ones who get shafted, 5/10 dollars a month in America yet we have to pay £50+ if we want both sky and BT amd you only get a selected number of games each week, its ridiculous

@Jedd952: Sorry but Sky and Bt take the utter mick with their prices. I have subscriptions to both and I still can’t watch all the games I want. It’s time for them to stop the black out and make all games available, for a reasonable cost. They would get more subscriptions that way too.

@jaket1995: The police need to get a grip man. People just want to watch football. What about all these vile criminals and rapists etc who get tiny sentences?!

@l16mjv: Anything that takes £ away from the people in power gets punished to the highest degree meanwhile serious offences and keeping people safe from kids carrying knives and peadophiles get a slap on the wrist. Greed

@BenH93_: 11 years in prison for streaming the football meanwhile you’re lucky if peadophiles get 3 years. Country is fucked.

@westhamfan216: Hardly a “gang” just ask who truly if effected and who benefits – so televised games still get millions of watches, do they still charge crazy amounts to regular viewers and businesses like pubs ? Are they not making enough already ?

@LiveseyIan1: Just goes to show that top flight football is no longer for the average man. You have to be on a serious wage to have a season ticket for the top clubs, let alone a ticket for one game. This is another reason to turn to non-League.

@DarrenF92102834: How are people illegally streaming football getting longer jail sentences than paedophiles? What a fantastic world we live in.

@mathertim: 5 bucks a month to watch any team in the USA #skysports shouldn’t be an absolute rip off then.

Make the subscriptions
1. Affordable
2. Make All games available on a premier league channel like a Netflix Sub.
3. Bin off BT and Sky
4. Won’t charge my desire for live football, no atmosphere like it.

@Danblock22: What an absolute joke.

@TomKirwan12: What a waste of police time.

@GoonerGirl1969: The mad thing is if you brought out a subscription service and cancel the 3pm blackout you’d be rolling in money. It makes no sense not too. Wouldn’t stop me going to football just because I have the choice to watch it at home, just get on with it.

@jamesbuzzer: Maybe make it affordable for everyone @SkySports.

@OldMancunium: Ever thought of the reasons why 50000 people took up the offer???

@Seanfootballbet: Been saying for years that everyone should just boycott them both for one season. See how quickly they’d scramble to improve then. Nevermind moaning about it but still paying it

@ukscoob: #EndTheBlackout! Some fans will still not pay for Sky/BT/Prime, but most will, or already do and STILL can’t watch their team week in/out! Fans going to lower league games aren’t going because the Premier League isn’t on TV!

@bencollick37: Justice system is so far beyond fucked. Pedo’s get a slap on the wrist but illegally streaming is where we draw the line. Corruption from the core

@InspireArsene: What are you expecting, a congratulations? You’re the real criminals, the amount of money it takes to watch football in this country is absolutely absurd and we still can’t even watch 3pm games.

@DanMatthewsAV: Unbelievable levels of hypocrisy, corruption and bribery behind all of this. When it costs over £100 a month to get around 50% of the games, of which most likely 5% are your own team, it’s obvious there’s a huge problem. Clubs and league are pathetic in sticking to this.

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