A gang of fraudsters have been jailed for a total of more than 43 years for their parts in the theft of millions of pounds from businesses and individuals in the UK and abroad.
Ten people were convicted between 26 and 28 March for their roles in a large-scale “diversion fraud” scam using hacking software following a six-month trial, and sentenced at Blackfriars Crown Court on Thursday, 2 May:
The court heard during the trial that the gang targeted businesses and individuals by hacking into their email accounts, and stealing large sums of money.
Officers from the Metropolitan Police Falcon Fraud Squad launched the investigation after receiving referrals from Action Fraud UK. Detectives identified a total of 228 separate frauds committed by the same network between 2014 to 2018, and totalling £10,112,312.54.
A total of 69 victims provided evidence during the trial. Many of them have been unable to recover their losses.
Several victims were traced with the help of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau whose Action Fraud service allows both domestic and overseas victims to report fraud online.
The gang used computer malware to intercept and steal the log-in details of email accounts belonging to businesses and private individuals worldwide, with the intent of identifying high-value financial transactions.
They then intercepted emails about these transactions and sent spoof emails, duping the victims into paying the funds into alternative UK-based “mule” bank accounts – accounts obtained and controlled by the fraudsters for this purpose – instead of the intended recipient.
A total of 165 “mule” accounts, opened with fake identification documents or bought from unscrupulous account holders, were identified by detectives.
They were used to receive the proceeds of the diversion fraud, where the money was quickly transferred onto other accounts, some of which were untraceable.
The fraudsters also used the funds from mule accounts to buy and export thousands of pounds of baby milk to Nigeria, to launder the money.