17 June 2024

June 12, 2024: Michael HORNUNG, 40, of Hyde, Greater Manchester, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for advertising and selling specially configured television set-top boxes. These devices allowed unlawful access to subscription services from Sky, BT, and Virgin Media, as well as thousands of on-demand films and pay-per-view content. Additionally, Hornung received a 12-week jail sentence for violating the Bail Act, bringing his total sentence to four years and nine months.

Hornung appeared before Manchester Minshull Street Crown Court following his successful extradition from Cyprus. He had previously been sentenced in June 2022, but the sentence was handed down in his absence as he had fled the UK to avoid imprisonment and had been living in Northern Cyprus to evade extradition to the UK.

On June 2, 2024, Hornung was arrested in Cyprus by Cypriot authorities following a collaborative effort between FACT and the National Crime Agency (NCA). The NCA facilitated arrangements for his extradition and, after an in-country extradition hearing, Hornung consented to return to the UK.

FACT began investigating Michael Hornung in April 2014 after intelligence revealed he supplied set-top boxes that enabled unauthorised access to subscription television content. With assistance from Greater Manchester Police, FACT identified Hornung as the operator behind ‘NoHatsNoTrainers,’ trading on the online platform CS World.

Hornung’s operation ran from 2014 to 2017, resulting in a potential loss of £2 million to broadcasters and rights holders and generating approximately £350,000 in fraudulent income.

In addition to his sentence, in September 2022, Hornung was ordered to pay £258,642 under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 (PoCA). He was given three months to satisfy this order or face an additional three years of imprisonment. The court has adjourned the resolution of the additional sentence, which will be addressed at a future hearing at Liverpool Magistrate’s Court.

 FACT CEO, Kieron Sharp, said:

“The collaborative efforts of FACT, the National Crime Agency, and Greater Manchester Police were instrumental in bringing Michael Hornung to justice. We would particularly like to thank the NCA for facilitating Hornung’s extradition to the UK.. 

 Hornung’s criminal business provided customers the means to access premium TV without compensating broadcasters or those with intellectual property rights. This conviction underscores our commitment to tackling fraud and piracy at all levels and ensuring that those responsible are held accountable. 

 The extradition of Michael Hornung serves as a reminder that no one is beyond the reach of the law. FACT will be relentless in our pursuit of individuals who profit from illegal activities, regardless of where they seek refuge.”

Tom Dowdall, Deputy Director International from the NCA, added:

“Hornung thought fleeing overseas would mean he would never have to face his crimes. However, the NCA’s international network regularly shares intelligence and works closely with overseas partners to apprehend those on the run. After liaison with law enforcement officers in Cyprus, Hornung has been returned to the UK to serve his sentence.”

FACT works with sports rights holders, broadcast partners, and others across the industry to investigate and prosecute suppliers of illegal streaming services, other IP crimes, and those accessing illegal content. Illegal IPTV undermines broadcasters’ rights by diverting revenue streams, as it enables users to access premium content without proper compensation.


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