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Police warn against using chipped set top boxes

# 1 June 2011, 05:06 by Chris T

Police have issued a warning that using a chipped box to get cable TV without paying for it is illegal and can land the user in serious trouble.

The warning came after the final member of a gang found guilty of modifying and selling illegal boxes was jailed for six years at Birmingham Crown Court.

Subhan Ali, 29, of Turner Street, in the Sparkbook area of Birmingham, was busted along with three others during a Police raid in 2008 in which more than 2,000 modified, or ‘chipped’ boxes were recovered.

His court case has taken so long to complete because he fled to Pakistan whilst on bail awaiting trial.

After sentence was handed down Sgt. Dave Farrell, of West Midlands Police, vowed that the fight against fraudulent cable TV viewing would go on – and that users of chipped boxes have as much to fear from the law as those that modify the boxes in the first place.

“I would urge the public to be aware that using set-top boxes that have been illegally modified to receive digital TV subscription channels for free are committing a serious criminal offence,” he said.

“Officers are continuing their enquiries, speaking with those who still continue to view illegal channels. Anyone receiving channels that should be paid for are at risk of being prosecuted.”

Malcolm Davies, Virgin Media’s head of fraud and security said: “This sentence should act as a serious warning to others to steer clear of selling illegal TV or broadband equipment. We take this matter extremely seriously and will continue to work closely with police forces and forensic teams throughout the UK to prosecute individuals connected with this type of fraud.”

Virgin Media worked with CY4OR, a leading forensic investigation company, to assist with the investigation. Keith Cottenden, forensic services director at CY4OR, helped to uncover crucial evidence that proved the boxes had been illegally modified.

He said: “Many people simply don’t realise that they are even committing a crime by receiving channels for free. The technology is now in place to enable us to find other perpetrators and stamp out this kind of crime. We hope the evidence collated as part of the investigations sets a precedent to prevent future fraudulent activity.”

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