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Pair jailed over TV football cards fraud

Two fraudsters have been jailed for illegally selling BSkyB viewing cards for Premier League football matches to pubs and other businesses.

Simon Hopkins and Leon Passlow were sentenced at Guildford Crown Court yesterday, having earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud between January 2008 and September 2012, in a prosecution brought by the Football Association Premier League (FAPL).

The pair ran a company - Digicam International Ltd (DIL) - in Bagshot, Surrey, which obtained hundreds of domestic use only BskyB cards, using hundreds of fake names, and long addresses in an attempt for their scam to go unnoticed. Paperwork found by officers showed the company had a turnover of £2 million.

Those cards were then sold on to commercial premises, including pubs, betting shops and yachts.

Hopkins, 47, of Park Road, Stoke Poges, Slough, Berkshire and Passlow 58, of Broomfield Drive, Ascot, Berkshire, were both sentenced to three and a half years each.

A Surrey Police spokesman said: "Although the companies paid a large one-off premium for the cards, they made huge savings on their monthly fees in the long run. They were also under strict instructions not to contact BskyB directly or they would face having subscription cancelled."

Specialist officers from the Force's Economic Crime Unit and Federation Against Copyright Theft (Fact) worked together to uncover the scam which defrauded broadcaster BSkyB (now Sky UK Ltd), which has the rights to the coverage of the Premier League competition run by the FAPL.

Detective Sergeant Chris Rambour, from Surrey Police's economic crime unit, said: "This was a complex investigation which involved working closely with our partners to see that these criminals were put behind bars.

"We will now be pursuing further action under the Proceeds of Crime Act to confiscate any assets acquired by the defendants as a result of these offences."

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 judgment 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."

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