On 16 June 2022 at Minshull Street Crown Court, Manchester, Michael Hornung, formerly of Hyde, Greater Manchester was sentenced to four years and six months imprisonment following conviction by a jury for selling and advertising unauthorised decoders for use in fraud over a three-year period between 2014 and 2017.
FACT, with the assistance of the Greater Manchester Police, investigated the activities of an online supplier of television set-top boxes which enabled access to subscription television content without payment being made to the broadcasters. The investigation commenced in April 2014 and FACT identified the supplier as Michael Hornung, residing in Cheshire and trading under the name ‘NoHatsNoTrainers’ via the online platform CS World.
In June 2014, a test purchase was conducted, and it was found that the device was enabled to access hundreds of channels from Virgin’s cable subscription service, including Sky Sports and Sky Movies, without any payment being made.
Hornung was arrested in February 2017 and was charged with various offenses including fraud. He later absconded from the UK but was tried in his absence and was found guilty on all charges on 13 May 2022.
FACT Chief Executive Kieron Sharp said: “We thank Greater Manchester Police for their work on this, their support and assistance is vital in procuring evidence for prosecution. FACT will continue to monitor channels used to advertise, market, sell and distribute apps, devices, and streams and take action against suppliers and operators.”
“Individuals are motivated by the financial benefits from providing illegal content, but FACT is leading the way in combating digital piracy and, in this case, have worked closely with Greater Manchester Police to hold this person accountable for his criminal activities.”
“This result should provide a warning to anyone involved in supplying illegal content. FACT’s work with broadcasters and rights holders will continue in order to crack down on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their actions.”
On sentencing, HHJ Nield noted that the offense had affected a large number of victims including not only the rights holders, but also the legitimate subscribers of Pay TV services who effectively subsidise those who unlawfully access Pay TV.