Two men who operated a business that sold unlicensed subscriptions to pay-TV sports channels have been given a 20-month suspended prison sentence.

Benjamin Yates and Lewis Finch, both from Worcester, were convicted of offences under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.

The prosecution followed an investigation by Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards team with the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and BT Sport.

Test purchases by FACT and BT led to the case being referred to Trading Standards and entry warrants being executed at both their addresses.

An examination of IT equipment seized during the investigation confirmed that both men had been heavily involved in the provision of IPTV services with approximately 3,971 subscribers.

Further investigations of their PayPal accounts showed that payments of over £320,000 had been received over three years.

“This court result underscores the value of our collaboration with Worcestershire County Council’s Trading Standards team and our broadcast partners,” said Kieron Sharp, CEO FACT. “The individuals behind this illicit streaming service made a considerable amount of money through their fraudulent activities and this outcome serves as a stern warning to those who sell subscriptions or devices that provide access to content without properly compensating the rightful owners.”

Sharp said the organisation would continue to work with law enforcement and broadcast partner BT Sport, now TNT Sports, to combat illegal streaming services.