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Man who made £2.3 million selling dodgy Sky TV boxes has been jailed

Tom Wood

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Man who made £2.3 million selling dodgy Sky TV boxes has been jailed

A man has been jailed after making £2.3 million selling illegal TV boxes installed with Sky Sports, Sky Cinema, and Disney+.

Web designer Halton Mark Anthony Powell sold a load of TV boxes that had software on that allowed customers to watch all sorts of programmes including Sky and Disney shows without paying for a subscription.

He made a load of money from his enterprise over a number of years, but police eventually caught up with him and he may be facing more than a jail sentence.

Powell founded Droidsticks Ltd. back in 2013, selling off more than 24,000 of the hooky boxes for about £100 each on various websites such as eBay, a bespoke website, and other places.

Halton Powell. Credit: City of London Police
Halton Powell. Credit: City of London Police

Between 2014 and March 2016, he quite literally made millions from his illegal enterprise, before an investigation was started in 2015 when an online marketplace reported that the boxes were being sold by an account owned by the company.

In total, the City of London Police’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU) found that he made £2,344,949 in sales.

Basically, the technology worked because the boxes had a piece of software on that was called ‘Droidsticks Wizard’ and allowed users to build their own group of add-ons to access subscription services without actually paying for them.

Of course, that’s totally illegal.

In April 2015, one of the boxes was bought from a shop in Chingford, East London by an investigator from Sky.

The police then arrested Powell shortly afterwards.

They found that he had 1,300 boxes in a storage unit as well as 121 boxes in a shop owned by Powell.

Essex Live claims that Powell refused to answer any questions during his police interview, answering ‘no comment’ to each one.

However, he did then admit supplying articles for use in fraud at Southwark Crown Court in August, for which he has now been sentenced.

PIPCU’s Detective Sergeant Peter Gartland said: “Powell attempted to hide the illegitimate nature of his business by concealing evidence that he was selling products pre-configured to stream Sky Sports and Sky Cinema.

“However, PIPCU officers were able to prove he was aware the set-top boxes were being used for this purpose by thousands of customers.

“It is vital to remember that watching premium content without a subscription is illegal – and enabling access to it can land you with a criminal record, as this case shows.”

Powell has now been sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison, as well as facing a confiscation hearing for any assets that he might have as proceeds of his crime.

Powell's boxes allowed people to watch Sky TV without payment. Credit: Alamy/Timon Schneider
Powell's boxes allowed people to watch Sky TV without payment. Credit: Alamy/Timon Schneider

Matt Hibbert, SKY’s director of anti-piracy for UK and Ireland, said: “We’d like to thank PIPCU for their support in bringing this case to a successful conclusion.

“The financial sums involved and the length of the sentence handed down today underline the seriousness of this type of criminality.

“We’ll continue to work with law enforcement and our industry partners to protect consumers and take action against those organisations intent on stealing our content.”

The confiscation proceedings are set to take place on 19 May 2023.

Featured Image Credit: City of London Police

Topics: UK News, Technology, TV and Film, Disney

Tom Wood
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