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Digital TV fraudster spared jail

PUBLISHED: 16:21 23 July 2008 | UPDATED: 10:40 12 August 2010

AN EMPLOYEE for Virgin Media has escaped jail after admitting modifying digital television boxes to access channels for free. Robert Else, 56, from Bromley, was

AN EMPLOYEE for Virgin Media has escaped jail after admitting modifying digital television boxes to access channels for free.

Robert Else, 56, from Bromley, was handed 120 hours in community service after he admitted his part in conspiracy to defraud the media group.

At Minchal Street Crown Court in Manchester, he admitted handling stolen goods by buying illegal Smart cards off Mark Faulkner, 37, of Woodford Avenue, Denton in Manchester.

Faulkner, who was jailed for 12 months and ordered to pay Virgin £23,500, was described as a top member of a gang operating across the country selling illegal cards giving free access to pay channels on Virgin Media Television.

He bought the cards from across the world and sold them on the internet for more than two years.

He claimed that he would sell them for as little as £1.

When he was arrested by Greater Manchester Police, Faulkner had more than 100 illegal cards in his possession.

Another member of the group, Wayne Jackson, 44, from Holts Village, Oldham was ordered to undertake 240 hours community service after admitting handling the illegal Smart cards.

Police Sergeant Nick Ardran of Denton Police said: "Faulkner was part of a sizeable network and was buying and selling the customized Virgin Media cards from all over the world."

Malcolm Davies, Virgin Media's head of fraud and security, said: "This sentencing should act as a serious warning to others to steer clear of this type of crime.

"We want to drive a clear message home to those involved in this fraudulent activity - whether they are suppliers or customers - anyone modifying set-top boxes or receiving their channels in this way is acting illegally and committing a serious offence."

Anyone with information about people supplying or using illicit equipment to receive Virgin Media TV channels can call a confidential hotline on 0800 096 7800.


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