Guilty verdict for black box TV fraudsters

Two men have been found guilty of selling television devices, which enabled access to paid for services dishonestly, at St Albans Crown Court, on Friday 31 January.

Thomas Tewelde from Acton, West London and Mohamed Abdou from Tonbridge, Kings Cross, were found guilty of intentionally encouraging consumers to access film and sport services, without subscription, by selling black box TV devices, also known as Kodiboxes, at Bovingdon Market, Hemel Hempstead, in July 2017.

Hertfordshire Trading Standards team carried out a filmed, undercover purchase from the offenders, which was shown to jurors during the trial, where it was unanimously determined that the pair had encouraged consumers to obtain services dishonestly, contrary to the Serious Crime Act 2007 and the Fraud Act 2006.

The jury also found the pair guilty of failing in their duty of care to ensure that the boxes were electrically safe, after tests commissioned by Hertfordshire Trading Standards revealed a number of safety issues.

Terry Hone, Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “We’re keen to support the growth of the creative industries which is significant in Hertfordshire. The sale of these boxes, allowing free access to copyrighted material, puts this industry and Hertfordshire jobs at risk.

“People who are buying these boxes may not be aware that they too could be committing a serious act of fraud as well as the associated risk of buying a box, which may not have been subject to safety checks, as in this case. If the deal appears too good to be true it likely is.”

Kieron Sharp, Chief Executive of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), said: “The message is very clear; if you sell a device that provides access to content that is not licensed or owned by you, you will face a criminal conviction and we thank Hertfordshire Trading Standards for their work on this case.”

Sentencing will be deferred until Friday 28 February, at St Albans Crown Court.

If you come across any devices that don’t look legitimate, FACT works with Crimestoppers to make it easy for you to report it. Contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or filling out the online form: https://crimestoppers-uk.org/give-information

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