An American and a Scotsman have been jailed for their part in an international phishing scam that netted the pair $11 million dollars (£6.5 million). The men now face a total of ten years in prison.
Douglas Havard, 24, a U.S. citizen living in Yorkshire in the North of England was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money. He was sentenced to six years. Lee Elwood, 25, of Glasgow was sentenced to four years in prison for the same offences.
The two men ran a U.K. crime syndicate which used stolen identities and bank account information gained through phishing scams to clone credit cards, steal from accounts via ATM machines and buy and sell goods online. Havard admitted to receiving credit card information and passwords from unnamed Russian individuals. These people then took a cut of the proceeds via money transfer agencies back to Russia.
The pair would also buy goods and then employ people to sell those goods through online auction websites. Havard and Elwood would also take a cut before transferring the rest back to Russia.
Havard was arrested in June of last year after police discovered correspondence, documents and equipment to manufacture false identities. Police also found in his flat bank accounts in at least 10 different identities as well as forged Euro and dollar travelers checks. Overall, about $18,000 (£10,000) in cash was found at various addresses and a further $36,000 (£20,000) was found in bank accounts.
The UK’s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) said that the pair, heavily involved in websites that facilitated online criminal activity, stole at least $1.3 million dollars (£750,000) over a ten-month period and it estimated the figure over a two-year period could be at least $11 million dollars (£6.5 million).
“Over the past year, the NHTCU has seen a sustained increase in the professionalism of cybercriminals. Companies are taking the brunt of their attempts to steal money and data, but consumers are also being hit,” said detective superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU.
“Organized crime is always on the look-out for ways to make money and has now realised that the Internet affords them such opportunities and billions of pounds are being lost to the UK economy through hi-tech crime,” he added.
The NHTCU is currently working with the US Secret Service, the FBI and Russian law enforcement agencies to track down other people in eastern Europe involved in the phishing scam.
As reported in SC Magazine earlier this month, phishers are targeting smaller organisations to maximise profit and fool even the net savvy, the latest report from the Anti-phishing Working Group (APWG) shows.