Four men have been jailed in Derby for stealing Virgin premium channels and providing them to consumers under the name Starview.
Using legitimate Virgin Media boxes and subscriptions, they were then able to stream the content to online servers, where those who bought modified set-top boxes could access it.
Paul Hartrick, Melvin Howard, Anthony Ginnivan and Amber Ahmed, were imprisoned for a total of eleven years. A fifth man, Jeong Woo You, fled back to Korea after being granted bail following his initial arrest.
Police estimate that the men were able to gain around £100,000 through running Starview, with Virgin Media estimating the equivalence in lost subscriptions at £32 million.
Detective Constable Adam Govan, investigating officer in the case, said: “This was a sophisticated fraud, taking place on an international scale.
“The jailing of these four men sends out a message that people who involve themselves in this kind of crime can be tracked down and will be brought to justice.
“This may be seen as a faceless crime but in the end it is Virgin Media customers who lose out because the company has to raise prices to make up for its losses.”
Virgin Media were able to sign up to the service and track it down to where it was being run from a home in Littleover.
Ironically, despite the jailing of the men behind the Starview fraud, the set-top box manufacturer, Irumtek, based in Korea, is believed to have made the most money from the operation.
While Paul Hartrick pleaded that he had only sold 1,500 of the boxes, police believe at least 12,000 modified boxes were sold.
The Starview operation ran between February 2010 to February 2011.
The surprise, really, is that the men didn’t think they would not get caught.
In the meantime, Virgin Media have been provided with a full list of Starview customers to consider making individual prosecutions.