£1m phishing fraudsters receive jail sentences

In a sequel to a news report on this website at the beginning of April, defendants behind a phishing attack that netted them a woman's £1 million life savings, have been jailed at Southwark Crown Court. This follows an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU).

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In December 2011, Tamer Hassanin Zaky Abdelhamid, 24, an Egyptian national of Cairo, sent the British woman – currently living in South Africa – an email purporting to be from her bank. It directed her to a web page mimicking her bank's genuine website where she filled in her account details in order to log in.

He then sold the victim's details for £3,200 to 29 year-old Rilwan Adesegun Oshodi, a Nigerian national living in South-East London. Oshodi used Annette Jabeth, 26, a Sierra Leone national living in South-East London, to call the bank posing as the victim and have contact details associated with the account changed, to ensure that the victim did not receive confirmation of te fraudulent transactions. Her life savings were siphoned off via online transfers to numerous accounts including several controlled by other individuals. Much of the money was spent when the group embarked on a three-day spending spree during the New Year sales in January 2012.

Detectives from the Metropolitan Police's PCeU worked closely with the banking industry to identify many of those involved and subsequently arrested them in March, April and September 2012, following a series of co-ordinated raids, assisted by colleagues from the East Midlands, York and Humberside, and North West regional hubs, as well as the the MPS's Fraud Squad and City of London Police's Specialist Crime Department.

The raids took place at various locations across London and the West Midlands.

At Oshodi's address they seized computers featuring the details of over 11,000 credit cards – of which 8,471 were for UK customers – representing an estimated £2.5m loss to the banking industry. He was the only member of the gang to deny the charges against him, but was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder the proceeds of crime on 4 April 2013. He was sentenced to eight years imprisonment and ordered to pay £1 million under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Abdelhamid was arrested last September 2012 on a visit from Cairo to the UK. He pleaded guilty to three counts of conspiracy to defraud last August, and he has been sentenced to six years imprisonment and ordered to pay £104,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

The others involved received prison sentences from 12 months to four years. Two were deported to Pakistan last October, having already served time on remand in custody.

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, head of PCeU, said: “Today’s sentences are testament to how seriously we take this type of crime and should stand as a deterrent to anyone who might consider phishing or benefitting from phishing.”

PCeU's Detective Inspector Stewart Garrick: "This is an extraordinary case which demonstrates what can be achieved when the Met and its partners work together to tackle trans-national cyber crime. I am supremely proud of all the officers who conducted this investigation. I hope that these sentences act as a deterrent not just to those who commit cyber crime but also those who seek to benefit from the proceeds of cyber crime." He added "We are continuously working hard to bring to justice those who choose to commit crime online."

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