Plaistow fraudster cost Virgin �144m

A fraudster cost Virgin Media an estimated �144million when he sold 400,000 set top boxes which could be programmed to receive subscription channels for free.

Munaf Zinga, 41, from Plaistow, supplied a “blank” box used to hack into the channels with instructions to download illegal software.

The equipment was supplied through his company, Rayyonics Ltd, Snaresbrook Crown Court heard.

Zinga was the founder and the prime mover of the business, Mukundan Pillai, 42, the technical expert and Salim Patel, 47, the delivery driver.

Patel had admitted his role in the conspiracy, on the basis that he was not involved in the company and made no profit from it.

Zinga and Pillai both denied conspiracy to defraud, but were convicted.

Passing sentence, Judge Inigo Bing said: “This was a clever and audacious fraud conducted over a considerable period of time.”

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Zinga, of Dacre Road, Plaistow, was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Pillai, from Hainault, Essex, was given six years.

Patel, of Crescent Road, Plaistow, admitted to conspiracy to defraud and was sentenced to a year in prison. Zinga’s wife Yasmin, of Dacre Road, and Jose Sreeraman, from Barking, were earlier acquitted of conspiracy to defraud.