For less than £200 per month, the pair provided a set-top box plus a service, which included Premier League soccer and pay-per-view boxing matches. The subscription package, which at some point was branded ‘Full Effects HD Sports’, eventually attracted the attention of the Premier League which launched a private prosecution for fraud offenses.
The football organization told the court that the “highly professional broadcasting service” was sold to subscribers at a rate designed to undercut legitimate broadcasters and in 2018, Dodds and Richards were sentenced to four-and-a-half years each in prison. That wasn’t the end of the matter, however.
According to a joint press statement by the Premier League and the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), a judge at Newcastle Crown Court has now ordered Dodds to pay back £521,000 to the public purse. Failure to do so within three months will result in his prison sentence being extended by an additional five years.
The judge handling the matter reportedly described Dodds “as an unreliable and dishonest character” who concealed the proceeds of his criminal activities by hiding large amounts of cash in his house and placing assets in his daughter’s name.
“This is a welcome judgment and we are pleased the courts have recognized how serious an issue illegal streaming is – it is a crime which has very significant consequences,” commented Kevin Plumb, Director of Legal Services at the Premier League.
“The defendant has now been ordered to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities, which we have requested go directly back to the public purse. The money recovered will go towards funding the courts and law enforcement agencies to help continue the brilliant work they do in helping bring people like this to justice.”
FACT, which worked with the Premier League on the cases against both Dodds and Richards, welcomed the decision and took the opportunity to warn others considering the same type of business model.
“This is a warning to anyone selling subscriptions or devices that allow access to content without remunerating the legitimate provider – you risk time in jail and the loss of your properties, cars and other proceeds of crime,” said FACT CEO Kieron Sharp.
“FACT will continue to work with members to crackdown on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their actions.”
According to local sources at the time of original convictions, the scheme was lucrative for the pair. Using a fraudulent company, the men generated revenues of £1.5m, which among other things funded the purchase of luxury cars and foreign homes.