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UK: Two Indian-origin men jailed for cable TV fraud

Two Indian-origin men have been jailed for being part of a multi-million pound fraud that allowed thousands of people in Britain to watch subscription television for free.

world Updated: Apr 04, 2017 21:08 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Set-top box seized during investigation by Leicestershire Police into the multi-million pound fraud that allowed thousands of people in Britain to watch subscription television for free.
Set-top box seized during investigation by Leicestershire Police into the multi-million pound fraud that allowed thousands of people in Britain to watch subscription television for free.(Leicestershire Police)

Two Indian-origin men who were part of a multi-million pound fraud that allowed thousands of people in the East Midlands to watch subscription television for free have been jailed for nearly two years each.

The men – Manish Javahar and Bobby Bhairon – were part of an eight-member group that previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud Virgin Media, a leading digital services provider. The mastermind of the fraud was Mahesh Tailor, who was jailed for six years in 2016.

Javahar, 35, and Bhairon, 39, were sentenced to jail at the Leicester Crown Court last week, while Tailor and others – including Jagdish Vegad and Jitech Racicchandra – were sentenced in August last year, closing an investigation by Leicestershire Police.

Police said Tailor, 51, the owner of Tailor Made Circuits, a printed circuit board manufacturer, found a way to get around the encryption for cable TV channels supplied by Virgin Media.

 Tailor imported thousands of set-top boxes from the Far East and sold them for up to £180 each. He reached customers by contacting them on internet forums and had his own website linked to the sale of boxes. He also sold the boxes in bulk to other businesses across the UK, police said.

The court was told how Tailor organised people around the country to assist in setting up the network so that the service was available nationwide. It communicated with servers overseas which allowed owners in England to receive channels via the internet, without paying a subscription to Virgin Media.

Detective constable Amrat Bhagwan, who investigated the case, said: “This was a lengthy and complex investigation which saw officers being deployed at various locations across the country to take the network down and render the boxes useless. 

“When we raided Tailor’s home, we found £250,000 in cash in various rooms. There were similar amounts held in his business bank accounts.”

Bhagwan said the set-top boxes were imported from the Far East and documentation showed Tailor claimed they were satellite receivers and even paid importation tax on them. “He did everything in his power to stop himself appearing on the radar,” he added. 

A Virgin Media spokesperson said: “Virgin Media has a zero tolerance approach to piracy and we thank Leicestershire Police for continuing to crack down on this criminal activity. Set-top box piracy is not a victimless crime. 

“Piracy represents a threat to Britain’s world-beating creative industries and harms the vast majority of honest, bill-paying customers. Furthermore, by installing an illegitimate box to any Virgin Media connection a customer is breaking the terms of their contract.”

Others convicted and sentenced were Nicholas Beck, Mark Weighill and Andrew Wren.