Timeline: Ex-pirate radio chief jailed for £30m Sky card scam

Ex-pirate radio chief jailed for £30m Sky card scam was a headline from The Irish Independent dated April 3rd 1998

Irish Independent – April 3rd 1998

Ex-pirate radio chief jailed for £30m Sky card scam

A former pirate radio supremo was jailed for four years in Britain yesterday for costing Sky TV £30m in a smartcard scam.

Chris Cary (51), who was chief of Dublin’s Radio Nova in the 1980s and a former DJ with Radio Caroline under the name Spangles Muldoon, spent years trying to crack the secrets of the Sky cards, Kingston Crown Court in Surrey was told.

He was described in court as Europe’s leading smartcard pirate.

Judge Richard Haworth told him: “You were the orchestrator and principal player in a sophisticated hi-tech commercial venture. It was planned and executed with great care and skill.

“In 1995 and 1996 you were the leading manufacturer and vendor of pirate smartcards. Your criminal activity was not a by-product of a legitimate enterprise, this fraud was your full-time occupation.”

The court heard that in a bid to beat the fraudsters, BSkyB had spent more then £30m bringing out a succession of smartcards.

When the pirates cracked one code, another even more sophisticated card had to be developed.

The judge was told that Cary’s Megatek company in Dublin was taking £20,000 a day until he and his accomplices were arrested in June 1996 through the undercover efforts of the Federation Against Copyright Theft (FACT) and police.

Cary, of Weybridge, Surrey, had previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud BSkyB with his ex-wife Remi, and another man.

The lucrative scam involved pirates cracking the smartcard codes which authorise decoders to unscramble different satellite channels and selling cheaper versions to Sky customers.


Timothy Langdale QC, prosecuting on behalf of FACT, said at an earlier hearing that Cary’s operation moved from Surrey to a shop in Dun Laoghaire shopping centre after two earlier companies operating the scam were closed down by High Court injunctions.

Regarded as a rebel, colleagues said Cary had a total disregard for rules but Nova, in its six-year history, had a 62pc share of the Dublin audience with his formula of ‘jingle, record, record, ad’ with as little talk as possible.

He subsequently bid for the national radio franchise which went to Century but a wrangle with the NUJ over union recognition eventually led to the closure of Nova.

Cary said Nova was the number one station in Dublin for four years and turned over £20m.

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