A lengthy investigation led by London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham Trading Standards has resulted in a combined 30-year jail sentence for five men who sold illegal TV sport subscriptions.
Officers began an investigation into the criminal operation in 2018 when the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) passed on evidence of streaming TV piracy to the Premier League, which in turn contacted Hammersmith & Fulham Council and Kensington and Chelsea Council Trading Standards.
The subsequent investigation turned out to be the biggest copyright case of its kind in the world.
The evidence revealed that Flawless TV, a company operated by Mark Gould of Greenwich, had netted more than £7m by selling subscriptions to live football matches to some 50,000 subscribers.
H&F Trading Standards Officer Doug Love and Richard Murphy of the anti-fraud team led raids on three London addresses, and successfully applied to court to freeze Gould’s assets.
A search of Gould’s flat found 22 set-top boxes linked together to intercept live TV feeds to broadcasters in the UK, the Middle East, the United States, Australia and Canada, and illegally stream them to viewers in Britain.
Information gathered from Gould’s seized computers led to the other defendants in the case, with search warrants executed at addresses across England and Wales, and assets frozen by court order.
The Premier League funded the £1m cost of the prosecution, with lengthy court proceedings culminating in sentences being handed down on 30 May at a court in Chesterfield by Justice Martin Hurst.
“We’ve helped take down this criminal gang which generated more than £7m in untaxed revenue from illegal internet streaming,” said H&F Council’s Senior Investigating Officer Doug Love.
Gould, 36, was described in court as having “clearly had a leading role” and was handed an 11-year jail sentence. He pleaded guilty to two counts, the second arising from continuing offending after his initial arrest, and contempt of court from a breach of the financial restraining order.
Stephen Gordon, 47, of Morecambe pleaded guilty and was sentenced to five years and nine months for two counts of conspiracy.
Peter Jolley, 42, of Skelmersdale also pleaded guilty and received five years and two months behind bars on two counts of conspiracy, with two years six months consecutively for money laundering.
Christopher Felvus, 37, of Pontypool pleaded guilty and received three years and 11 months for conspiracy to defraud. He was also found guilty of voyeurism and possessing indecent images of children on his computer.
William Brown, 34, of Stoke was convicted after trial on two counts of conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to four years and nine months.
Zak Smith, 30, of Bridgnorth did not appear for sentencing, but had pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud and will be sentenced when he is apprehended.