LONDON: 27 June 2005
TWO MEN SENTENCED TO 10 YEARS FOR INTERNET FRAUD
27 June 2005 - Leeds, London: Two men, one a US citizen, have been sentenced to a total of 10 years for their part in a conspiracy to defraud and launder money from the proceeds of â€˜phishingâ€™ â€“ the technique used to gain personal information for the purposes of identity theft.
The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) is currently investigating a conspiracy by Eastern European crime syndicates to target UK banks and steal cash from customersâ€™ bank accounts.
As part of their investigations, officers from the NHTCU arrested US-born Douglas Havard in Leeds on 4 June 2004. He is also wanted in the USA on two Texas State Warrants for non-appearance at court where he was due to face charges for counterfeiting and for armed robbery.
When he was arrested, Douglas Havard was found to have correspondence, documents and equipment to manufacture false identities. Scattered about the flat were bank accounts in at least 10 different identities, and forged Euro and dollar travellers cheques. Overall, about Â£10,000 in cash was retrieved at various addresses and a further Â£20,000 was found in bank accounts in various names which were then frozen.
Following his arrest, it became apparent that his criminal activity was being assisted by a second person, Lee Elwood, based in Glasgow.
A British citizen, Lee Elwood was arrested by the NHTCU on 8 June 2005 and initially was charged with conspiracy to defraud. He has been sentenced to four years for his part in the conspiracy. When Elwoodâ€™s flat was searched, a large quantity of forged documentation and bank documents, credit card holograms, computers and other equipment was also found.
The two men ran a UK syndicate which used identities and bank account information to remove money from accounts via ATM machines, to buy and sell goods online, and use cloned credit cards to finance their extravagant lifestyle.
Officers from the NHTCU estimate that the pair stole at least Â£750,000 over a 10-month period and estimate that the proceeds of this crime over two years could be as much as Â£6.5 million.
Havard admitted to receiving data dumps of credit card information and passwords from unnamed Russian individuals who subsequently received a cut of the proceeds via money transfer agencies back to Russia.
Another string to their bow was to purchase goods using the compromised credit cards and employ people to receive those goods and sell them via online auction sites, pocketing a small fee and sending the balance to Havard and Elwood. These two would then take their cut and forward the rest of the cash via money exchange facilities back to the people in Russia who had supplied them with the original data.
Both of them were heavily involved in carding websites â€“ carderplanet and shadowcrew. Highly organised, these websites promoted and facilitated a wide variety of criminal activities including electronic theft of personal identifying information, credit card and debit card fraud, and the production and sale of false identification documents.
After initial contact via the Internet, the suspects exchanged stolen information and counterfeit documents such as credit cards, driverâ€™s licenses, domestic and foreign passports and birth certificates. Both Doug Havard and Lee Elwood acted as Moderators on these sites with the ability to monitor, review, approve and post articles relevant to the newsgroup, quite a senior status within the hierarchy.
Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, Deputy Head of the NHTCU, said:
â€œOver the past year, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit 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.
â€œOrganised 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.
â€œInternet fraud is on the increase and we work with our colleagues in law enforcement across the globe to stamp down on those criminals using other peopleâ€™s identities to steal. We are particularly grateful for the assistance provided by our counterparts within the US Secret Service and the FBI for their close cooperation in connection with this investigation.
â€œWe hope that these sentences deliver a tough message to anybody either thinking about or actually using other peopleâ€™s identities to steal.â€