Glasgow & West Scotland

Bellshill man convicted of card-sharing TV scam

Gavin Gray Image copyright Police Scotland
Image caption Gavin Gray ran his card sharing business from his Bellshill home

A 25-year-old man has admitted fraud offences that enabled others to watch pay TV channels without an official viewing card.

Gavin Gray advertised his business on websites and forums dedicated to the illegal practice known as card sharing.

It was the first conviction of its type in Scotland, and followed an operation involving Police Scotland, Sky, Virgin Media and others in 2014.

At Hamilton Sheriff Court, Gray was given 300 hours of community service.

He was also given a 12-month restriction of liberty order, which requires a person to remain within their home at times specified by the court.

When officers searched his home in Bellshill, North Lanarkshire, they seized £44,500 hidden in a safe in the loft.

Police later seized £80,000 from his bank account.

Investigations revealed that Gray was running a large-scale card sharing business, with clients across the UK and internationally.

Gray admitted four charges of fraud and offences under the Copyright Designs Patents Act 1988.

Ch Insp Mark Leonard said: "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."

He urged people to think twice before buying a "so-called bargain".

Police Scotland worked with FACT during the operation, which specialises in protecting physical and digital content.

Kieron Sharp, of FACT, 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."