Hacked Premier League footballer helps police as cops crack down on online crime

West Mercia Police has said it will continue to crackdown on online crime after working with a Premier League footballer whose accounts were hacked.

The icons of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, are displayed on a mobile phone screen, in London..
The icons of social media apps, including Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and WhatsApp, are displayed on a mobile phone screen, in London..

Investigations have led to a number of arrests and convictions in recent months as officers tackle crime such as child exploitation, cyber crime and fraud

In one instance a top-flight footballer had his social media accounts hacked. Working confidentially with the Premier League player, officers identified the hacker as a 37-year-old man from Halesowen, and he was arrested in May 2020.

Following enquiries, another 250 victims of hacking were identified, and an incident of non-recent sexual assault.

He pleaded guilty to charges under the Computer Misuse Act and a charge of sexual assault, and on October 29 last year was sentenced to 29 months in prison at Worcester Crown Court. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender for 10 years.

In another case, a man from Shrewsbury was given a suspended jail sentence for making and distributing indecent images of children.

On February 9 the 29-year-old was sentenced at Shrewsbury Crown Court to 18 months in prison, suspended for two years, ordered to complete unpaid and rehabilitative work, and be subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

Detective Sergeant Dave Meyer said: “Fortunately we were able to detect the defendant’s actions before any physical crimes against the victims were committed.

“Hopefully this result demonstrates our commitment to investigating online criminality to protect children.”

​Officers have also collaborated with Federation Against Copyright Theft to address pirate TV broadcasters in Shropshire.

Intelligence was gathered to justify surveillance of man in Shrewsbury suspected of illegally streaming subscription TV.

Following investigations, a warrant was executed at a property in Shrewsbury in July last year and a 57-year-old man from Shrewsbury was arrested on suspicion of fraud.

​The investigation continues.

Detective Sergeant Ian Osborne said: “This shows by working with our partners we can target suspected organised criminals.

“We have real expertise in this area and we will continue to target those we suspect to be fraudsters who are a growing threat to local people across the force.”

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