An estimated £59 million worth of fraud has been prevented in the UK after three men were convicted for launching what is thought to be the UK's biggest cyber phishing case in the UK to date. All have received substantial jail sentences.
The men – a Nigerian national living in Birmingham and two Romanians – were sentenced at Inner London Crown Court yesterday following an investigation led by the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) and supported by SOCA Cyber, the banking industry and global counterparts including the United States Secret Service.
PCeU detectives began surveillance of the men after receiving intelligence that over 2,600 phishing pages had been placed on the internet. The pages mimicked genuine banking websites and were designed to dupe unsuspecting victims from 14 countries including the US, Russia, China, Australia, Canada and the UK into logging on and providing their banking credentials. One of the men then used these details to steal money from their bank accounts. All three were tracked to a luxury Central London hotel where they were caught using laptops to log iinto servers storing compromised banking data. They were arrested and charged shortly afterwards.
PCeU officers then worked with counterparts in the US and France to secure the servers, which were based there. This revealed that the trio had obtained the personal details of almost 30,000 bank customers, of whom 12,500 were in the UK. They also found over 70,000,000 customer email addresses stored on the server, all potential targets for phishing scams. Numerous addresses in Romania were also searched by the PCeU, resulting in the seizure of crucial financial documents providing evidence of money laundering by the group.
Financial Fraud Bureau evidence suggests that up to £59 million worth of fraud from the 12,500 UK victims alone was prevented by the convictions. However, the figure is likely to be significantly higher when other countries' victims are included.
PCeU's Detective Inspector Jason Tunn said: "These convictions have struck a major and decisive blow against this global cyber crime gang. Quite what they have managed to steal is yet to be determined but their conviction has prevented them from systematically defrauding thousands more bank customers across the world. This is by far the biggest case the PCeU has dealt with to date and is likely to be the biggest cyber phishing case so far in the UK."
Sunday Godday Etu, aged 27, was imprisoned for eight years, Inout Caraman, 22, was imprisoned for seven years and two months, and Adrian Iorgovean received a total of five years and seven months for their respective crimes.