Wednesday, September 09, 2015

It Was The Greed That Did Him In

A man who cannot see has limited options when it comes to career choices. For Paul Mahoney, partially blind, the best choice was to launch his own business that he could run from home.

As a handicapped individual, he received some assistance, although two thousand pounds per annum is far from enough to support an adult male. He lived with his parents, a shy and retiring lad with a computer and a brilliant idea. He could earn a living using his computer. His eyesight problems were not so enormous when he had modern technology to give him a little help, and he did not have to meet the public if he worked in some technology-oriented way.

So he became a salesman, selling advertising space on websites.

The websites that paid him so well for his efforts were, however, quite illegal.
A self-made man not limited by his handicap. Limited by the law, but what's a man to do?

Mr. Mahoney discovered that people like to download things for free, especially newly released films not yet available on DVD. It's expensive to go to a theatre, and as for waiting for the disc to become available for rent, who wants to wait when everyone is talking about that latest movie sensation? Websites exist to provide pirated editions for those who dare to download things without worrying about also downloading malware or other unpleasant things. There is a demand for stolen goods that cost nothing.

How do those interested in viewing such a film find the places where those films can be viewed? And if one is a marketing specialist, how do you reach those who must see the newest film at a discount? Mr. Mahoney became their link to the target demographic, setting up websites that showed potential viewers where to find what they wished to see.

And then he sold advertising space on his websites.

He did so well at his chosen profession that he's thought to have generated three hundred thousand British pounds from his home-based business in Derry. Over the course of six years, during which he had to evade authorities and ignore court orders to stop, he made all kinds of cash that he stashed in the family home because the man's a recluse and you can't buy things over the Internet with cash.

There's only so long you can thumb your nose at government officials, and Mr. Mahoney has reached that limit. He has just been sentenced to spend some time in prison for his act of piracy, where he won't find it quite so easy to maintain his reclusive lifestyle.

Whether or not the Prison Service will allow him access to computers remains to be seen, but given the chance, Mr. Mahoney might start up another website and carry on his life's work. There's not much a partially blind man can do and a prisoner needs to be kept busy. Idle hands are the devil's workshop and all that.

The question remains, however. If Mr. Mahoney had not accepted the public assistance that he clearly did not need because he was doing well on his own, would he have been sentenced to a term in prison? Was it greed that did in him, or did he think that the checks from Her Majesty's coffers were good cover for his clandestine operation? Maybe it was not greed, but being too clever, that spoiled his empire.

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