£1M Manchester IPTV Scheme Ends In Dramatic Takedown

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In another significant crackdown on digital piracy, Jordan Longbottom, a 42-year-old from Manchester, has been caught in the crosshairs of the law for operating an illegal IPTV service.

His operation, which promised unrestricted access to premium pay-TV content without due payments to legitimate providers like Sky, has been a lucrative venture, amassing up to £1 million and attracting thousands of customers.

The scheme, leveraging the sale of specially configured streaming devices, priced between £100 and £175, underscores the vast scale and profitability of the illegal streaming market.

Longbottom’s operation came to an abrupt halt following a meticulous investigation by Greater Manchester Police and FACT, leading to his dramatic arrest in March 2017 at Manchester Airport. 

Man being arrested
Illustrative Photo

The police successfully confiscated the operation’s streaming devices and obtained customer lists (for tips on protecting yourself from illegal IPTV services, see below).

Last month, Longbottom finally had his day in court – where the judge called this an “exceptional” case.

Illegal IPTV Explained

With streaming services slowly taking over traditional TV, the term “IPTV” has become somewhat confusing – as it relates to both legal and illegal services.

Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is just the name of the technology that delivers television content over the internet, rather than through old-school terrestrial, satellite, or cable TV formats.

IPTV on a laptop

Therefore, every streaming service operates via IPTV – Netflix, Prime Video, ITVX, etc. Those IPTV-based services are, of course, legal and are paying the necessary royalties to content providers.

However, many unauthorized services also present themselves as “IPTV”, and the term has unfortunately become synonymous with those illegal services that occasionally pop up online, and are available either via websites or on “jailbroken” streaming devices like the Fire TV sticks.

These unauthorized services often offer pirated content, including premium TV channels, movies, and live sports events, without the proper permissions or payment to content owners.

In the UK, the use and distribution of unlicensed IPTV services are illegal and can result in severe penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

The Rise And Fall Of Longbottom’s IPTV Scheme

Jordan Longbottom’s journey into the murky waters of illegal streaming began in 2015, with the launch of a service that was found at “www.sattvuk.co.uk”, and a corresponding Facebook page.

His proposition was simple: offering devices that unlocked the gates to a treasure trove of premium film, television, and sports content – all without paying a penny to the likes of Sky and Virgin Media.

Football on mobile phone 1200

The allure of free access to what many consider the crown jewels of entertainment proved irresistible to thousands, with Longbottom’s customer base growing rapidly.

Despite a cease-and-desist notice from the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT), the body dedicated to protecting intellectual property rights, in January 2016, Longbottom doubled down.

He defiantly set up a new website and Facebook page (“www.sattechuk.com”), continuing to peddle his illegal streaming services. A second notice was issued in February 2016, yet Longbottom continued his illegal operations.

Over the course of his operation, Longbottom sold boxes priced between £100 and £175 to ‘thousands’ of customers, and his Facebook groups amassed 37,000 followers.

The Dramatic Takedown

The drama reached its climax in January 2017 when officers from Greater Manchester Police’s Economic Crime Unit, armed with a warrant, descended upon an undisclosed location.

Hacker arrested dark room
Illustrative Photo

Their mission was to seize the set-top boxes and digital devices that were the lifeblood of Longbottom’s operation.

Though Longbottom himself was elusive, slipping through the net to Florida, the devices he used were eventually found, along with lists of his customers.

Then, in March 2017, Longbottom was arrested at Manchester Airport, upon returning from a holiday in the US.

Airport security guard
Illustrative Photo

The courtroom at Minshull Street Crown Court became the final battleground, where a sentence was given On January 10, 2024.

According to Manchester Evening News, Prosecutors painted a picture of a scheme that had potentially raked in up to £1 million, a figure disputed by Longbottom, who claimed his takings were closer to £300,000.

The debate over the exact amount, however, did little to sway the judge’s decision.

The judge determined that this case was exceptional, allowing for a suspended sentence due to the prolonged nature of the legal process.

He noted that, under normal circumstances, Longbottom would have likely faced immediate incarceration had the proceedings been expedited. Instead, Longbottom received a 22-month suspended sentence.

Financial Investigator Keith Graham of GMP’s Economic Crime Unit said: “This case has been investigated since 2017, and it goes to show that our officers and staff will not stop until justice has been served and those responsible have been brought to justice.”

How Can I Identify Illegal IPTV Services?

In the digital age, where streaming content has become as commonplace as traditional TV viewing, the line between legal and illegal IPTV services can sometimes blur.

Streaming watching movies films on tablet
Photo: Deposit Photos

However, the consequences of using illegal IPTV services can range from malware infections to legal repercussions.

Here’s how you can spot these illicit services and protect yourself from unintentionally supporting digital piracy.

Unbelievably Low Prices

One of the most glaring red flags is the price. If a service offers access to a vast array of premium channels, live Premier League matches, and the latest blockbusters for a price that significantly undercuts legitimate providers, caution is warranted.

Poor Quality Websites and Services

Take a closer look at the quality of the website or service interface. Illegal IPTV services often have poorly designed websites, filled with grammatical errors and low-quality images. 

Payment Methods

Be wary of how the service asks you to pay. Illegal services might avoid traditional payment methods like credit cards or PayPal, which leave a paper trail. Instead, they may prefer cryptocurrencies, gift cards, or other untraceable payment methods. 

Customer Reviews and Online Presence

Do some digging online. Look for reviews or discussions about the service on forums, social media, and reputable tech websites. While even legitimate services can have mixed reviews, a pattern of complaints about legality, service quality, or customer support issues can be a warning sign. 

The Offer Seems Too Broad
Be cautious of services that promise access to an impossibly wide range of content from various countries and networks, all bundled into one package. Legitimate services usually have geographical and content limitations based on licensing agreements. 

The bottom line? If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. 

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