Officers from Hampshire County Council’s Trading Standards unit assisted by local police executed a warrant at an address in Bursledon, Hampshire, close to the city of Southampton. Reports indicated that two people – a 41-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman – had been arrested under suspicion of offenses under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 and money laundering.
From the outset, it was clear the operation had been carried out against some type of illegal streaming operation to protect the rights of companies including Sky and BT Sports. The investigation formed part of a wider investigation coordinated by Europol. A day later, Europol announced that four people had been arrested in Ireland.
FACT and Trading Standards Announce Convictions
Information sent to TorrentFreak by FACT and an announcement from Hampshire County Council Trading Standards now reveals that on 18 March, 2022, four individuals were sentenced at Southampton Crown Court after being convicted in connection with the illegal streaming of copyrighted material, including that owned by Sky Sports and BT Sport.
Neither release mentions a specific streaming operation but following a request for clarification, FACT suggested that we should look at a well-known online handle.
For perhaps a decade, MIKEY1234 has been involved in the development and distribution of software (including Kodi addons) that facilitated access to copyrighted content. In several forum posts over the years, MIKEY1234 also admitted to living in the Southampton area.
FACT didn’t immediately respond to additional questions relating to how revenue was generated by MIKEY1234 and his associates but given the harsh sentences handed down last week, it is clear that significant sums were involved.
Defendants Receive Prison Sentences Exceeding 10 Years
According to FACT, the four convicted people, their crimes, and their sentences are as follows:
Michael James Simmonds – age 45 of Bridge Road, Bursledon, sentenced under Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006 (Participating in business for a Fraudulent Purpose) and Section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Money Laundering): 5 years 6 months imprisonment on each to run concurrently. To serve half sentence in custody with the remainder served on license
Kieran Collins – age 38 of Beccles Road, Great Yarmouth, sentenced under Section 9 of the Fraud Act 2006 (Participating in business for a Fraudulent Purpose) and Section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Money Laundering): 3 years imprisonment on each to run concurrently. To serve half sentence in custody with the remainder served on license
Amanda Collins – age 37 of Beccles Road, Great Yarmouth, sentenced under Section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Money Laundering): 18 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years, requirement to conduct 200 hours of unpaid work
Robert Kurian – age 46 of Mascalls Way, Chelmsford, sentenced under Section 327 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (Money Laundering): 8 months imprisonment suspended for 2 years, requirement to conduct 180 hours of unpaid work
Confiscation Under Proceeds of Crime Act
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, confiscation orders can be issued against people who benefit from criminal conduct to facilitate the recovery of unlawfully obtained property.
For his part in the MIKEY1234-connected operation, Keiran Collins was found to have benefited in the sum of £329,239.51 and was ordered to pay back £15,399.59. Amanda Collins was found to have benefited in the sum of £80,000 and has to pay £59,698.07. Robert Kurian was found to have benefited in the sum of £21,039.06 and is required to pay a nominal amount of £1.
Confiscation proceedings against Michael Simmons, who received the harshest sentence, have been instituted but no monetary value has been made public.
Kieron Sharp, Chief Executive of FACT, welcomes the convictions and thanks those involved in the operation for their work.
“I would like to thank Hampshire County Council Trading Standards for taking on this case following an initial investigation by FACT, assisted by National Trading Standards,” Sharp says.
“The individuals sentenced were involved in running a criminal enterprise that generated substantial profits with no regard for the rights of content owners. FACT continues to pursue those operating illegal streaming services who risk criminal convictions and forfeiture of assets.”