Three men jailed for online phishing fraud

Three men have been jailed for taking part in an online attack against the UK and international banking system.

According to the Metropolitan Police, Ayodeji John Kareem, Vincent Alonge and Babatunde Fafore pleaded guilty to the attack that collected personal information such as online banking passwords and credit card numbers through online phishing websites. Those credit card details were then used fraudulently.

Enquiries revealed that through the course of their activity, the defendants compromised over 900 bank accounts and 10,000 credit cards, and over £599,000 was successfully stolen, although attempts were made to access up to £1.13 million. Fraud had been attempted on over 1,400 of the compromised credit cards, amounting to actual losses of over £570,000, while the precise amount is yet to be established.

The three men were arrested in August 2010 following a prolonged investigation by the Police e-crime unit (PCeU) and was codenamed Operation Dynamophone. The convictions are believed to be the first prosecutions in the UK involving such detailed evidence of an organised internet phishing operation.

David Levy, reviewing lawyer for the CPS Central Fraud Group, said: “These men profited enormously by taking advantage of the trust that many of us would place in an internet service that appeared genuine, but their enjoyment of their ill-gotten gains was short-lived. The bogus emails and websites that led victims into the scam also led the authorities to the scammers.

“Those who use the internet thinking they can phish with impunity should be warned by this case that you will be found out and you will be prosecuted.”

The three men were charged with conspiracy to defraud, conspiracy to acquire and use criminal property, possession of a false identity document with the requisite intent and possession of articles for use in fraud.

Kareem pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to acquire and use criminal property and was sentenced to three and a half years and five years and five months respectively, both sentences to run concurrently.

Alonge pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with the requisite intent and possession of articles for use in fraud and was sentenced to six months and two years respectively with sentences to run consecutively. He pleaded not guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to acquire and use criminal property, which were left to lie on file.

Fafore also pleaded guilty to possession of a false identity document with the requisite intent and possession of articles for use in fraud, and was sentenced to six months and two years respectively with sentences to run consecutively.

Four further individuals were also arrested in connection with the investigation but were subsequently released and no further action was taken.

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