Fraudster sentenced for scam to deprive SKY TV of potentially over £13m revenue
Halton Mark Anthony Powell, 44, has been sentenced to two years and four-and-a-half months after pleading guilty to supplying articles for use in a fraud at Southwark Crown Court on 11 November 2022.
The City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit and the CPS uncovered, after an internal investigation by Sky, that Powell sold set-top boxes which were capable of allowing the end-user to watch premium, subscription-only television content without paying the necessary fee to the providers of that content. The set-top boxes were sold through his business premises, Ebay and the company websites.
Powell admitted to supplying Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) boxes which is a process enabling the receipt of streaming services through websites, without the use of a satellite. IPTV boxes are also known as set-top-boxes.
During police searches in June 2016, 1,300 set-top-boxes were seized from an identified lock-up and 121 set-top-boxes were seized from the retail business premises.
Evidence from Sky estimated the potential loss to the company was £13,826,460.
Further evidence gathered by the police and the CPS showed that, in order to continue defrauding Sky and avoid being caught, Powell’s Droidsticks company went from openly selling fully loaded boxes to referring potential customers to a private forum to discuss purchase and the use of the boxes.
Sarah Place of the CPS said: “Powell was ruthless in exploiting new emerging technology and software to potentially deprive Sky TV of more than £13million from selling set top boxes that gave away premium copyrighted content for free.
“He was devious in his subsequent efforts in providing instructions to customers to show how to set up the boxes and to provide answers to questions about this fraudulent activity.
“We will commence proceedings for confiscation orders against any available money and assets from this crime.”
Detective Sergeant Peter Gartland, from the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), said:
“Powell attempted to hide the illegitimate nature of his business by concealing evidence that he was selling products pre-configured to stream Sky Sports and Sky Cinema. However, PIPCU officers were able to prove he was aware the set-top boxes were being used for this purpose by thousands of customers.
“It is vital to remember that watching premium content without a subscription is illegal - and enabling access to it can land you with a criminal record, as this case shows.”
The CPS is committed to working with law enforcement agencies to stop activities of cyber criminals and bring them to justice.
Notes to editors
- Sarah Place is a Specialist Prosecutor for the CPS Serious Economic Organised and International Directorate (SEOCID)
- SEOCID was launched on 1 April 2022 and is the CPS’s response to the changing nature of crime by bringing together specialists in organised and economic crime as the lines in these areas of crime continue to become more blurred.
- Halton Powell (DOB: 21/12/77) pleaded guilty to one count of supplying articles for use in frauds and was sentenced to two years and four and half months at Southwark Crown Court on 11 November 2022
- Financial matters including the victim surcharge will be considered upon the conclusion of the confiscation proceedings and costs to be considered then too.