Cornwall IT expert sentenced over £400k streaming scam

  • Published
Truro Crown Court.
Image caption,
Steven Underwood ran the illegal service from his home in Redruth, Cornwall

An IT expert used his skills to sell £400,000 worth of illegal Sky Sports, BT and other TV streaming services.

Steven Underwood, 34, ran the scam, which involved a number of criminal groups, from his home in Cornwall for up to two years.

Underwood, of Redruth, was given a one-year prison sentence suspended for two years at Truro Crown Court.

He pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to infringing copyright and running a fraudulent business by a sole trader.

Sentencing Underwood to a 20-day rehabilitation activity requirement, Judge Bob Linford said the offences were "extremely serious".

"You were engaged in a highly profitable piece of completely illegal activity," he said.

'Specific skills'

Underwood set up a system which allowed people to illegally stream live sports and included a Netflix-style on demand platform, where customers could watch movies and other content.

The court heard Underwood advertised on Facebook, sometimes using his own name.

Harry Ahuja, prosecuting, said: "The defendant had certain specific skills in IT.

"His role effectively was to obtain illegal streams to live sport events, usually broadcast by Sky and BT."

Angry customers

Mr Ahuja said Underwood then uploaded the streams onto remote servers that cost him between £6,000 to £8,000 a month.

Underwood admitted the offences to investigators from Cornwall Council's Trading Standards department.

He said that after he started the scam he felt duty bound to continue as he feared his customers would become angry.

Mr Ahuja said the £400,000 that had gone through Underwood's bank accounts was not all profit.

Mike Gregson, defending, said Underwood's life had started going wrong four years ago when his relationship broke down and he was currently not able to work due to sickness.

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