The group exploited the royalties system to generate £500,000
The leaders of an 11-strong gang which scammed iTunes and Amazon out of royalties to a level associated with acts like Madonna have been jailed.
The gang members from Kent, Derby, Birmingham and Wolverhampton used stolen credit cards to buy their own music, pocketing £500,000 in royalties.
Five members were jailed, one sent to a young offenders institution and the rest given non-custodial sentences.
Two other people were cleared of any crime at Southwark Crown Court.
The court heard the scam worked by exploiting the system which allowed musicians to receive royalties direct by paying a flat fee to a music distributor, then uploading their own music to the sites.
'Utterly unknown artists'
Ringleader Craig Anderson, 24, of Edwin Road, Dartford, Kent, bought 24 identical laptops, obtained thousands of stolen or compromised credit card details and then recruited helpers to log in and buy songs to generate royalties.
The group attempted to avoid detection by limiting each purchase to less than £10.