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6 March 2017, 18:13
A 25-year-old man has become the first in Scotland to be convicted of ''card sharing'', which allowed encrypted TV broadcasts to be viewed without a valid subscription.
Gavin Gray, 25, of Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, pleaded guilty to four charges of fraud and offences under the Copyright Designs Patent Act 1988.
His offences allowed protected encrypted television broadcasts to be viewed without a valid subscription to the broadcast provider.
He was sentenced to 300 hours community service and given a 12-month restriction of liberty order at Hamilton Sheriff Court on Monday.
It followed a multi-agency operation involving Police Scotland, FACT, Sky, Virgin Media and other agencies in 2014 which led to his arrest.
When officers searched his home they seized £44,500 hidden in a safe in the loft. Police later seized £80,000 from his bank account.
Police say Gray advertised his business on dedicated card-sharing websites and forums which supplied illegal access to homes across Scotland.
Chief Inspector Mark Leonard, lead for counterfeit and intellectual property for Police Scotland, said: ''Officers conducted an operation in conjunction with a number of agencies including FACT at the home address of Gavin Gray where they seized computer equipment and large sums of cash.
''The subsequent investigation revealed that Mr Gray was the lynchpin in large-scale, organised illegal activity known in the industry as 'card sharing' with clients across the UK and internationally, serviced by his online website from his Bellshill base.
''This activity allows people to electronically purchase command lines to data held on computer servers that provides them with access to premium digital broadcast channels.
''Although people may think that this will have little impact on major broadcasters, make no mistake, the amount of money being lost is on a large scale.
''Purchasing a 'so-called bargain' may lead to a visit from the police at your door, so think twice before saying yes.''
FACT director general Kieron Sharp said: ''Whether it's card sharing or IPTV set-top boxes, allowing access to premium pay-for TV without the proper licence is illegal.
''FACT takes this criminality very seriously and will continue to work with Police Scotland and our members including BT Sport, the Premier League, Sky and Virgin Media to ensure that this illegal activity is disrupted.''