A group of criminals who stole more than £4.3 million in online phishing scams were jailed on Friday for a total of 13 and a half years, following a lengthy police operation dubbed “Operation Dynamaphone”.
The three men set up forty malicious web pages and then sent fraudulent emails to customers claiming to be from their bank, when in fact the emails contained a link to direct their victims to a bogus site.
The phishers obtained the details of over 900 bank accounts and 10,000 credit cards in what police described as a “sophisticated and concerted” attack.
The Met’s Police Central E-Crime Unit (PCeU) said the convictions are the first in the UK “involving such detailed evidence of an organised internet phishing operation” and were the result of a “prolonged” investigation.
Detectives working on the case found evidence during the investigation that at the time of their arrest, the men had computer scripts in their possession which would enable them to operate the bogus websites.
The men, Ayodeji John Kareem, 38, Vincent Alonge, 31, and Babatunde Fafore, 41, were arrested in August last year by detectives from the UK and Ireland, who executed search warrants at properties in London and Co Meath.
It is thought that they stole £599,000 from the bank accounts alone and as it yet it is not clear how much were stolen from the credit cards, but is expected to exceed £3.1 million.
David Levy, the lawyer for the CPS fraud unit said, “These men profited enormously by taking advantage of the trust that many of us would place in an internet service that appeared genuine, but their enjoyment of their ill-gotten gains was short-lived, the bogus emails and websites that led victims into the scam also led the authorities to the scammers.”
Police went on to warn those involved in phishing would be “found out” and “prosecuted” and presiding Judge HHJ Sanders commended the work of the PCeU and commented on the need to bring this type of offence to justice in view of how essential online banking and trading has become.
DI Colin Wetherill, Police Central e-Crime Unit said: “In collaboration with law enforcement colleagues and industry partners both in the UK and overseas we are working to identify and bring to justice those committing serious and organised offences of this nature online, and to reduce the harm they cause to innocent individuals and to the economy.
These convictions represent a significant step forward.
Four other men who were arrested in connection with the case were released without charge.