A 57-year-old man who sold hundreds of pirate IPTV boxes through eBay in the UK has received a two-year suspended prison sentence. The prosecution, brought by Westminster City Council’s Trading Standards team with help from FACT, revealed that the Westminster resident generated more than £82,000 in proceeds over the years.
Online piracy exists in many shapes and forms. Torrent sites were dominant a decade ago, but these have long been eclipsed by streaming portals.
In addition to pirate streaming sites that can be accessed through web browsers, dedicated streaming boxes have grown in popularity as well. These boxes can be easily connected to TVs for a relatively seamless experience, as long as they work.
eBay IPTV Box Seller
In recent years various rightsholders have clamped down on these pirate boxes and IPTV services. In the UK, this has resulted in legal action on several occasions. One of these cases, spearheaded by Westminster City Council’s Trading Standards team, came to a conclusion this month.
The Trading Standards team started its investigation in 2017. With help from UK anti-piracy group FACT, it discovered that 57-year-old Westminster resident Fuaad Al-Saegh was selling IPTV devices on eBay.
Using two separate accounts, the man sold the boxes for prices ranging from £150 to £250. When properly connected, the devices allowed buyers to access sports streams including those of beIN, as well as other content that would normally require a paid subscription.
Trading Standards officers bought three devices that worked as advertised. This resulted in a raid on the man’s house where more boxes were found. With assistance from eBay, it was eventually determined that the defendant had sold 628 devices, which generated more than £82,000 in proceeds.
Mr. Al-Saegh was confronted with the evidence at the City of London Magistrates Court this summer, where he pleaded guilty to multiple violations of the Fraud Act 2006. Earlier this month, Southwark Crown Court concluded that a two-year suspended prison sentence is appropriate.
This is the first prosecution of its kind by Westminster City Council’s Trading Standards and Councillor Heather Acton is happy with the outcome and thanks FACT for its assistance.
“This investigation into illegal IPTV devices was a first for our Trading Standards service and demonstrates the expertise of our officers,” Acton commented on the news.
“The proceeds of crimes such as this are often used by organized crime groups to fund more serious criminal activity, so I am pleased that our investigation, with assistance from FACT, resulted in a successful prosecution.”
The suspended prison sentence means that Mr. Al-Saegh won’t have to serve time in prison. However, it confirms that sellers of pirate devices face severe risks in the UK.
This isn’t the first time that someone has been prosecuted for selling pirate devices. We have seen several other suspended sentences in the UK over the years and a few actual jail sentences as well. And with new sellers continuing to pop up, this probably won’t be the last prosecution either.
FACT CEO Kieron Sharp indirectly warns sellers and says that it will continue to monitor the IPTV piracy landscape. If they spot new targets, these will undoubtedly be reported to the appropriate authorities.
“FACT will continue to monitor platforms used to advertise, market, sell and distribute apps, devices and streams, to take action against suppliers, operators and consumers,” Sharp says.