Four brothers have been sentenced for their part in a half-million pound internet fraud.
Adnan, Imran, Ferkhan and Gibran Nawaz – all of Rochdal – had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud at Manchester Crown Court, Crown Square at a previous hearing.
Adnan Nawaz was jailed for four years nine months, Imran Nawaz received 16 months, Ferkhan Nawaz 16 months suspended for two years and 150 hours unpaid work and Gibran Nawaz for 16 months and 14 months for separate offences.
The UK's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and the FBI collaborated closely to uncover the fraud, which involved the brothers using an internet forum called Darkmarket, where stolen financial information such as credit card data was shared among criminals worldwide. Greater Mancheter Police's Economic Crime Unit was also closely involved.
Darkmarket was an exclusive, invitation-only 'club' of criminals. The brothers had several online identities they shared to commit fraud including buying, selling and using of compromised card details and laundering the proceeds through legitimate companies, bank accounts and virtual currencies. The site was originally infiltrated in 2006 by an FBI undercover agent. The FBI and SOCA passed information on to the Greater Manchester Police regarding a Darkmarket user going under the alias of TheUnknown. GMP's Economic Crime Unit raided the Nawaz family home, where they seized several computers and CDs, examination of which revealed information of 15,000 credit card and account holders.
Over 40 arrests have been made worldwide in connection with the fraud. Evidence suggested that they were intending to trade the details to make money and plotted among themselves and others to do so. Another raid on a house in Bradford resulted in the seizure of several more computers and £28,000. The family had also been money laundering by buying mobile phone topups by using other peoiple's card details.
GMP's Detective Constable Jim Lyons said: "This was a large scale fraud plot, in which 15,000 victims had their details compromised and the Nawaz Brothers were intending to make money out of them. The average spend per compromised card is typically £536 which gives a potential loss to the banking and retail industry of around £8 million. Due to the joint investigation by GMP, SOCA and the FBI, we managed to put a stop to this, as we acted as fast as possible. Despite this; fraud specialists from the various banks have identified the total fraudulent spend on the accounts is more than half a million pounds."
Lyons continued "Through the proactive multi-team approach, this has saved the banking industry approximately £7 and a half million pounds, and stopped several thousand people becoming victims of crime. GMP worked closely with various banks and other organisations like SOCA, O2 (UK ltd), Interflora, UKash and the HMRC, to gather the evidence against these brothers."