"he was actually the offender responsible"
Malik Luqman Farooq, aged 31, of Halifax, was jailed for 27 months for pirating and selling blockbuster films.
Southwark Crown Court heard that he committed piracy from his bedroom and sold the films before they officially released.
An investigation revealed that he had been making the films available to download online.
The piracy first came to light in 2012 when the Motion Picture Association of America discovered that their films were being illegally distributed.
Undercover investigators eventually came across an online profile called ‘Dark999’ who was selling pirated versions of Hollywood films.
This included Fast & Furious 7 and Horrible Bosses 2, which he planned to illegally distribute.
Investigators identified the IP address to show it was Farooq who had accessed an unreleased version of Fast & Furious 7 from a private site.
A search of his computer and hard drive revealed logins for the ‘Dark999’ profile, as well as proof that Farooq owned the PayPal account he had used for the transaction with the undercover investigators.
Farooq had bespoke software which was made for the production company’s clients to access films ahead of their release.
His hard drive contained 15 copies of unreleased films.
It was heard that Farooq had a shortcut on his computer to Fast & Furious 7 which had the same file name as the one accessed from the private platform and sold to online investigators.
Farooq was paid $5,019 for Fast & Furious 7 and $1,200 for Horrible Bosses 2.
Following his arrest, Farooq claimed he was only involved so he could report main offenders to the authorities. However, Farooq had not reported anyone and was actually a leading figure in the piracy network.
On October 24, 2019, Farooq pleaded guilty to defrauding copyright owners and proprietors of trademarks between September 2014 and April 2015.
Jonathan Kelleher, of the CPS, said:
“Farooq insisted that he was only trying to help authorities by catching key players in the piracy network, but he was actually the offender responsible for pirating numerous blockbuster films.
“The technology, that Farooq was so fascinated by, ultimately led to his downfall, giving an audit trail of him accessing unofficial files and releasing them for his own gain.
“CPS Specialist Fraud Division has worked closely with colleagues from City of London Police and the US authorities in order to secure this result.”
Police said that the Motion Picture Association of America estimated that they could have lost $287 million from just Fast & Furious 7 if it had been put online before the official release date.
Detective Constable Abdun Noor said: “Fast & Furious 7 was the second highest-grossing movie in 2015.
“Industry estimates show the potential loss suffered, had the film been released before the official cinema date, would have been substantial.
“Our investigation ensured Farooq was arrested before he was able to release this particular film to the public.”
“Digital piracy causes significant damage to the companies involved in producing films, not only in terms of profits but also in terms of putting jobs at risk.
“Anyone who is thinking of committing digital piracy, like Farooq, should see this case as a warning.
“Piracy is not a victimless crime and we will ensure these criminals are brought to justice.”
Wiltshire Times reported that on March 6, 2020, Farooq was jailed for 27 months.