A landscape gardener who operated a satellite TV scam from his bedroom was branded a criminal Mr Big by police this week.
Gavin Gray, from Mossend, was described as the “lynchpin” behind an international fraud that netted him £120,000 and could have cost broadcast giant Sky millions. However, a suggestion that the 25-year-old, who avoided a prison sentence, was a major player in organised crime was dismissed by his lawyer.
Hamilton Sheriff Court heard Gray’s ‘card sharing’ scam allowed his customers access to premium digital channels. He sold packages on the internet for a fraction of the price Sky demands.
He was caught after an operation involving Police Scotland, Sky, Virgin Media and the Federation Against Copyright Theft. Police found £44,500 in a safe hidden in his loft. His conviction is said to be the first of its kind in Scotland.
Chief Inspector Mark Leonard said: “The investigation revealed that Mr Gray was the lynchpin in large-scale, organised illegal activity with clients across the UK and internationally, serviced by his online website from his Mossend base.
“Although people may think that this will have little impact on major broadcasters, make no mistake, the amount of money being lost is on a large scale.
“It’s very tempting for people to think they are getting a bargain, but it’s important to remember there are organised criminals behind these fraudulent schemes, often supporting and funding other more serious crime, such as human trafficking and drugs.
“Officers recognise that organised criminals are diversifying into products and commodities where there is perceived less risk. We will continue to work in partnership with private industry and specialists to deter global crime trends that are harming our communities.”
First offender Gray claimed in court he simply set up the scam in order to save up money to put a deposit on a house. He said he had no idea it would escalate and bring in so much money.
His solicitor, Kevin McCarron, said: “He’s definitely not involved in organised crime.”