"The loss to Virgin was in the many millions of pounds."
Mahesh Tailor, aged 51, from Thurnby in Leicester, has been jailed for six years for committing a multi-million-pound fraud to supply free Virgin Media TV using illicit set-top boxes.
Tailor was accompanied by five other men who worked with him to create the scam by using a method to bypass the encryption in order to allow people to watch Virgin Media TV without a legitimate subscription.
The fraud took place between February 2008 and April 2012, and during a raid on Tailor’s home, police found £250,000 in cash, which appeared to be uncounted.
Mahesh Tailor owned the company Tailor Made Circuits which manufactured printed circuit boards, based in Thurmaston in Leicester.
His fraud involved importing set-boxes from China and Korea and then selling them to thousands of people for up to £180 per box, allowing them to access Virgin Media for free.
He developed his business by promoting it on internet forums and used his own website for sales. Bulk sales of the illegal set-top boxes were also made all around the UK.
A container with 5,000 boxes was retrieved by police during the investigation and it was most likely that Tailor has sold a number of similar containers.
It was revealed by prosecutor Martin Hurst that Tailor created a national service by organising people around the country to create a server network.
The network then communicated with overseas servers using the internet to provide a signal for the boxes sold by Tailor to receive Virgin Media channels in England without them having to pay a subscription.
Explaining how Tailor configured the boxes, Hurst said: “Tailor and his employees installed licenced software on the set top boxes to activate them.
“He installed, either personally or through agents or co-defendants servers in seven homes around the UK, four in Leicester, one in Coventry, one in Bristol and one in Bolton.
“They were identified over time by Virgin who installed their own receivers to watch pay TV without paying and set about identifying the server addresses.
“The loss to Virgin was in the many millions of pounds.”
Tailor and all the other accomplices pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud Virgin Media.
Judge Robert Brown who sentenced the men on Friday, 26th August 2016, said: “This was a significant fraud committed over a significant period of time.
“It had the potential to deliver enormous profit to you, Mahesh Tailor, and cause significant loss to Virgin Media.
“You took the leading role in this conspiracy and caused others to be involved.”
The other men sentenced along with Tailor were:
Jagdish Vegad aged 56, who repaired faulty boxes was jailed for 14 months.
Jitesh Racicchandra aged 44, who had two servers installed was jailed for 18 months.
Nicholas Beck aged 46, who had a server was jailed for 13 months.
Mark Weighill, aged 36, who sold the boxes was given eight months, suspended for two years and 150 hours of unpaid work.
Andrew Wren aged 56, who sold on some of the boxes, was given a 10-month jail sentence, suspended for two years and 150 hours of unpaid work.
Operation Gazette – to catch this fraud was led by Detective Con. Amrat Bhagwan. Speaking about the case, he said:
“Officers were deployed at various locations across the country and the network was taken down, rendering the boxes useless.
“The boxes were imported from the Far East and documentation showed Tailor claimed they were satellite receivers and even paid importation tax on them.
“He did everything in his power to stop himself appearing on the radar.”
A spokesperson for Virgin Media regarding this case said: “Fraud costs our customers, our business and the creative industries millions of pounds and we thank the Leicestershire Police for bringing this network of criminals to justice.”