Conman must pay £520,000 for supplying 270 pubs with illegal football streams

A conman who supplied illegal sports streams to hundreds of pubs has been ordered to pay back more than half a million pounds.

John Dodds provided access to Premier League matches and other high profile sporting events to pubs and clubs across the north east of England.

He sold illegal streaming devices (ISDs) to at least 270 venues, costing legitimate suppliers many millions of pounds in lost earnings.

In the process he netted £1.5m for his business partner Jason Richards and himself.

Newcastle Crown Court heard how he had hid the keys to a car which contained equipment and a list of all his clients when police came knocking.

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The impact of his offending was wide ranging and counted FA Premier League, Sky, BT, law-abiding publicans who did not sign up to the con and thereby lost business amongst his victims.

Dodds, who was jailed for four and a half years in 2018, was ordered to pay back £521,000 within three months or face his prison sentence being extended by an additional five years.

Premier League director of legal services Kevin Plumb said: "This is a welcome judgment and we are pleased the courts have recognised how serious an issue illegal streaming is – it is a crime which has very significant consequences.

"The defendant has now been ordered to forfeit the proceeds of his criminal activities, which we have requested go directly back to the public purse.

"The money recovered will go towards funding the courts and law enforcement agencies to help continue the brilliant work they do in helping bring people like this to justice."

The court heard how Dodds was the "commander-in-chief" of the worldwide fraud and was helped by Richards, who was also sentenced to more than four-and-a-half years in prison.

The pair admitted conspiracy to defraud following an investigation led by the Premier League working in partnership with FACT.

Dodds, of Stainton Road, Seamer, Middlesbrough, was found to have concealed proceeds of his criminal activities by hiding large amounts of cash in his house and placing property assets in his daughter’s name, in what the judge found to be ‘a sham’.

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CEO of FACT Kieron Sharp said: "Today’s court order shows emphatically that providing illegal streaming services is a serious criminal offence that will result in a prison sentence for fraud and additional financial consequences.

"This is a warning to anyone selling subscriptions or devices that allow access to content without remunerating the legitimate provider – you risk time in jail and the loss of your properties, cars and other proceeds of crime.

"FACT will continue to work with members to crackdown on illegal streaming and to hold those behind it accountable for their actions.”

The duo were brought to justice through an investigation involving a number of regional bodies, including North East GAIN and The National Trading Standards Regional Investigation Team.

Lord Toby Harris, chairman of National Trading Standards, said: " Mr Dodds orchestrated the sale of hundreds of devices that undermined legitimate businesses and ripped off consumers, with many customers paying for Kodi-style boxes and equipment that were faulty.

"The long prison sentence, combined with the additional confiscation orders announced this week, send a strong message that crime does not pay.

"This case clearly demonstrates that providing access to unauthorised streams and content is illegal and anyone engaging in piracy of this nature is liable to prosecution.”

If you come across any content that doesn’t look legitimate, Crimestoppers makes it easy for you to report it.

Contact Crimestoppers anonymously by calling 0800 555 111 or filling out their   online form   .

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