Waterlooville cheat who conned Virgin Media out of £1.2m must repay just £1

FRAUD Michael Osborne must pay back just �1
FRAUD Michael Osborne must pay back just �1

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A FRAUDSTER who is thought to have cheated a TV company out of £1.25m after supplying a thousand people with illegal cable will have to repay just £1.

Bankrupt Michael Osborne was given seven days to repay the sum – despite earning more than £45,000 from his life of crime.

The 50-year-old, of Lantana Close, Waterlooville, supplied people with equipment to get free Virgin Media channels over a four-year period.

Osborne sold fraudulent smart cards that allowed people to watch premium channels without paying the monthly subscription fees of £104.

He ran the illegal enterprise from his bedroom and sold about 1,000 in a four-year period after finding out about them during discussions on the internet.

A confiscation hearing at Portsmouth Crown Court heard that Osborne had earned £45,740 from his operation.

But as he has no assets and owed about £52,000 in credit card debts after being previously declared bankrupt, Osborne was ordered to pay back just £1.

The order, made under section six of the Proceeds of Crime Act, gave the fraudster a week to settle his debt.

Speaking during the confiscation hearing, prosecutor Matthew Lawson said: ‘The Crown has calculated a figure of £45,740. That is an agreed benefit figure.

‘The defendant is bankrupt. He has no assets.

‘The available amount is therefore a nominal figure of £1.

‘That is agreed between parties.’

Osborne, who has a string of previous convictions, was initially arrested in March 2010 when police found 41 of the smart cards.

He later pleaded guilty to possessing articles for use in fraud, making or supplying articles for use in fraud and to obtaining services by deception.

At Portsmouth Crown Court in February this year Judge Roger Hetherington handed him a two-year suspended sentence, stating that the operation required ‘a degree of sophistication’.

Osborne is under supervision from the probation service for 18 months and must attend a thinking skills course.

Recorder James Townsend said: ‘I certify the benefit is agreed of £45,740.

‘The available amount is £1, to be paid in seven days.’