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Virgin Media set-top box modder gets 5 years

Jail for free-channel fraudster

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A man from Birmingham has been jailed for five and a half years for his role in a cable TV fraud.

Mohammed Ali, 35, was sentenced last week for selling modified set-top boxes that can receive free channels.

Three other men were also convicted of involvement in the fraud. Umar Manir, 28, was handed 18 months' jail and ordered to pay compensation to Virgin Media. Shaukat Ali, 27, was sentenced to 12 months' jail, suspended for two years, and ordered to do 250 hours of unpaid work.

The fourth man, Subhan Ali, 29, absconded abroad and was found guilty in his absence.

The group were arrested in 2008, when 2,000 illegally modified set-top boxes were found during police raids in the Sparkbrook area of Birmingham. Large quantites of cash and two vehicles were also seized.

The convictions are part of a concerted effort by Virgin Media in recent years to stamp out set-top box and modem fraud. It claims network updates are making it impossible to take internet and TV 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 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."

CY4OR, a digital forensics consultancy, compiled crucial evidence to prove the set-top boxes had been illegally modified. ®

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