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UK pay-TV pirate fined with £250k

A man convicted of selling set top boxes giving illegal access to Sky TV, BT Sports and Virgin has been ordered to pay more than £250,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act. In June Michael Hornung, 38, of Tameside, was sentenced in his absence to four and a half years in prison for selling unauthorised decoders, selling articles for use in fraud and advertising unauthorised decoders for sale.

Minshull Street Crown Court was told he had fled to Turkish-controlled Northern Cyprus, a territory with which the UK has no extradition treaty. On Wednesday Hornug was ordered in his absence to pay £258,642.95.

Hornung, formerly of Hyde, is estimated to to have sold around 2,700 set top boxes over a three year period between January 2014 and January 2017. The operation is estimated to have made around £350,000, with an estimated loss of around £2m to the media companies.

Acting on behalf of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (F.A.C.T.), prosecutor Ari Alibhai told the court in June that Hornung supplied equipment that allowed customers to access ‘premium’ subscription TV, including pay-per-view events such as boxing, without paying for it. He ran an account called ‘NoHatsNoTrainers’ which advertised the devices for sale on a website called CS-world.

Mr Alibhai said: “This was a sophisticated and remunerative business supplying customers the means to access TV without paying the broadcasters or others with intellectual property rights to that content.”

Speaking after Wednesday’s hearing FACT Chief Executive Kieron Sharp said: “Today’s confiscation order makes clear the consequences of providing illegal streaming services, a serious criminal offence which in this case has led to a substantial prison sentence and now severe financial penalties. We are pleased the court have recognised the seriousness of piracy-related crime and we thank Greater Manchester Police for their support and assistance during the course of a complex investigation.

“The money recovered will go back to public bodies, including law enforcement agencies, which assists them in their efforts to bring criminals to justice.” Manchester Evening News

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