Man jailed for Virgin Media box fraud

By Andrew Laughlin,

A man from Birmingham has reportedly been sentenced to five and half years in jail for his part in a major fraud against cable TV operator Virgin Media.

Last week, Mohammed Ali, 35, was convicted of selling modified cable TV set-top boxes that can receive free channels, reports The Register.

Three other men were also found guilty of the fraud, including Umar Manir, 28, who was handed an 18-month jail term and ordered to pay compensation to Virgin Media.

Shaukat Ali, 27, was given a 12-month suspended jail sentence and ordered to do 250 hours of community service, while Subhan Ali, 29, had fled overseas and was found guilty in his absence.

The men were arrested in 2008 after police raids in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham uncovered 2,000 illegally modified set top boxes, along with substantial quantities of cash.

Their conviction was part of Virgin Media's campaign to stop set top box and modem fraud in the UK. The company is now updating its network security to stop users from being able to receive TV and internet services for free.

"Later this month, we will introduce a new encryption process in Birmingham, which is already rolling out across other parts of the UK now," said Virgin Media's head of fraud and security Malcolm Davies.

"This will protect our existing customers and make it impossible for others to take our services unless they pay for them legitimately."

In March, Wolverhampton Crown Court sentenced Jagdeep Bhogal, 30, and Manminder Singh, 30, to 26 weeks imprisonment each, suspended for two years, for trying to defraud Virgin Media.

The two men, who were found guilty of selling unlocked and unauthorised media viewing cards on eBay, were ordered to do 200 hours community service and pay £762 in costs.