Westminster City Council’s Trading Standards team, working in partnership with FACT, have secured a prosecution against an eBay user who was selling internet protocol television (IPTV) devices online. IPTV devices enable users to access broadcasts, such as sporting events and films, which would otherwise require a paid subscription.
Mr Fuaad Al-Saegh, (DOB: 01.03.1964) was handed a two-year custodial sentence, suspended for two years, at Southwark Crown Court on 5 November 2021.
Council officers began their investigation into Mr Al-Saegh, a Westminster resident, in 2017 after it was alleged he had been selling IPTV devices via two separate accounts on eBay since 2016. As part of their investigation, Trading Standards officers covertly purchased three of these devices which were retailing at £150-£250.
Westminster City Council were assisted in their investigation by FACT, the UK’s leading intellectual property organisation. FACT provided intelligence on Mr Al-Saegh’s internet activity and examined the IPTV devices obtained by the council to ascertain the extent of copyright infringement. Upon inspection, the devices were found to allow the viewing of beIN Sports content without a legitimate subscription and a large number of films which were made available without permission of the rights’ holders.
A raid was undertaken on the suspect’s home address with assistance from FACT and the National Crime Agency, which resulted in the suspect’s arrest and further devices being found at the premises. Investigating officers, working closely with eBay, established the defendant had sold 628 devices for more than £82,000.
On 11 August 2021, Mr Al-Saegh, attended City of London Magistrates Court where he pleaded guilty to four offences under the Fraud Act 2006. He was sentenced to two years imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court on 5 November, suspended for two years.
Councillor Heather Acton, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Communities, said:
“This investigation into illegal IPTV devices was a first for our Trading Standards service and demonstrates the expertise of our officers.
“The proceeds of crimes such as this are often used by organised crime groups to fund more serious criminal activity, so I am pleased that our investigation, with assistance from FACT, resulted in a successful prosecution.”
FACT CEO Kieron Sharp added:
“This is an important conviction for Westminster City Council’s Trading Standards team who took on this prosecution against an individual who defrauded the broadcast and film industries for his own gain.
FACT will continue to monitor platforms used to advertise, market, sell and distribute apps, devices and streams, to take action against suppliers, operators and consumers.”