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  1. ITV Report

Men sentenced over Virgin Media fraud

The men imported thousands of set-top boxes from the Far East and sold them for up to £180 each. Photo: Police Photograph.

Two men who were part of a group convicted for a multi-million pound fraud on a media firm have been sentenced.

In August last year eight men were convicted of conspiracy to defraud Virgin Media. Six were sentenced at the time, but the two remaining defendants were sentenced on Thursday at Leicester Crown Court.

Manish Javahar, 35, of Harrison Road, Leicester pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to defraud Virgin Media and was sentenced to 21 months in prison.

Bobby Bhairon, 39, Owenford Road, Coventry pleaded guilty to Conspiracy to defraud Virgin Media and was sentenced to 19 months in prison, suspended for two years.

Mahesh Tailor was responsible for leading the scam. Credit: Police Photograph.

Mahesh Tailor, 51, of Hollies Way, Thurnby, Leicester, lead the plan and was the director and owner of Tailor Made Circuits in Thurmaston, a printed circuit board manufacturer, who saw a way to get around the encryption surrounding cable TV channels supplied by Virgin Media.

In August last year Tailor was sentenced to six years in prison and disqualified from being a company director for eight years.

Tailor imported thousands of set-top boxes from the Far East and sold them for up to £180 each.

He reached customers by contacting them on internet forums and had his own website linked to the sale of boxes.

He also sold the boxes in bulk to other businesses across the UK.

The court heard how Tailor organised people around the country to assist in the set-up of the network so the service was available nationwide.

It communicated with servers overseas which allowed owners in England to receive channels via the internet, without paying a subscription to Virgin Media.

During the investigation Leicestershire Police recovered a container with 5,000 set-top boxes inside and it’s believed that Tailor had already sold multiple similar consignments.

Detective Constable Amrat Bhagwan investigated the case. He said:

“This was a lengthy and complex investigation which saw officers being deployed at various locations across the country to take the network down and render the boxes useless. When we raided Tailor’s home, we found £250,000 in cash in various rooms. There were similar amounts held in his business bank accounts. The boxes were imported from the Far East and documentation showed that Tailor claimed that they were satellite receivers and even paid importation tax on them. He did everything in his power to stop himself appearing on the radar.”

– Detective Constable Amrat Bhagwan.

A Virgin Media spokesperson said:

“Virgin Media has a zero tolerance approach to piracy and we thank Leicestershire Police for continuing to crack down on this criminal activity. Set-top box piracy is not a victimless crime. Piracy represents a threat to Britain’s world-beating creative industries and harms the vast majority of honest, bill-paying customers. Furthermore, by installing an illegitimate box to any Virgin Media connection a customer is breaking the terms of their contract. We and others in the industry will do all we can to combat this.”

– Virgin Media spokesperson.

The following remaining defendants pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud Virgin Media and were sentenced last August:

  • Jagdish Vegad, 56, of Arbour Road, Leicester: Sentenced to 14 months imprisonment
  • Nicholas Beck, 46, of Bloomfield Road, Leicester: Sentenced to 13 months imprisonment
  • Jitesh Racicchandra, 44, Knowle Road, Bristol: Sentenced to 18 months imprisonment
  • Mark Weighill, 36, of Dunbar Road, Coalville: Sentenced to eight months suspended for two years and 150 hours unpaid work
  • Andrew Wren, 56, Hinckley Road, Coventry: Sentenced to ten months suspended for two years and 150 hours unpaid work