Jason Richards helped John Dodd’s run an illegal scam providing access to pay TV and premier league football matches.
They provided at least 270 pubs with access to a range of channels, police say the fraud caused losses estimated to be in the millions and lined their own pockets with at least £1.5 million.
The impact of these crimes was wide-ranging and caused financial damage to the FA Premier League, Sky, BT and publicans who did not sign up to be part of a scam service.
Dodd’s, 66, and Richards, 46, who admitted conspiracy to defraud after a prosecution by the FA Premier League, were jailed for four-and-a-half years each last April. Richards was brought back to Newcastle Crown Court for prosecutors to try to claw back some of his ill-gotten gains under the Proceeds of Crime Act. But despite profiting to the tune of £462,463, he only has to pay back £2,500, which is the value of a car he owns.
Dodd’s led the crime by obtaining domestic viewing cards from overseas and sold them to pubs and clubs, installing satellite dishes and charging for these services. In 2010 Dodd’s further expanded his business by providing his customers with a card sharing system. The system meant that customers made no payments at all to broadcasters as it enabled encrypted broadcasts to be viewed without the need for a legitimate viewing card.
Dodd’s sold customers set up boxes for around £600 each but also had to pay him a subscription of between £160 to £200 per month for continued access to the service. The court heard how Dodd’s went to great lengths to conceal his involvement, he created a complicated network of overseas servers and hosting companies which were designed to make it impossible to trace.
In 2012 Richards became involved and helped develop a new way of providing coverage. The pair together blocked the logos of the channels they were showing and marketed the scam as legitimate. They even distributed posters in pubs to advertise their fraudulent business.
In March 2016 Dodd’s made threats to a Sky employee who had advised a number of publican customers that the system was illegal. Dodd’s was arrested and previously pleaded guilty at magistrates’ court to an offence of making a malicious communication.
After the case, Premier League director of legal services, Kevin Plumb, said: “This is a hugely significant judgment as it provides further evidence that selling these devices is illegal and can result in a prison sentence. We hope this verdict gets the message out that selling or using these devices is simply not worth the risk.”