A heartless phishing gang that stole and frittered a British woman’s entire £1 million ($1.6 million) life savings on items including “gold and cheeseburgers” have been handed heavy sentences by a judge at London’s Southwark Crown Court.
Nominal ringleader, Nigerian national Rilwan Adesegun Oshodi, was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay back £1 million under the Proceeds of Crime Act, although this might prove difficult given that the stolen money has reportedly already been spent.
The man who phished the victim’s bank account details and then sold the information to Oshodi for £3,200, Egyption Tamer Hassanin Zaky Abdelhamid, was sentenced to six years and ordered to pay £104,000 under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The woman used by Oshodi to impersonate the victim in order to have bank communications redirected, Annette Jabeth, was sentenced to four years.
Several ‘mules’ were used to siphon off the money without the bank noticing with one, Chika Okala, also receiving a four year sentence; four others received 15 month and 12-month sentences for smaller roles in the crime.
Beyond the fact that the gang stole such a large sum of money from a single person, what makes the case stand out was the brazen way the conspirators spent the money, much of it on a single lavish three-day shopping trip in January 2012.
Pictures released to the court during the case showed Oshodi posing with a “cash sandwich” – bank notes inserted between slices of bread – and others showing him holding up champagne bottles the better to advertise his new-found wealth.
Once the theft was picked up, the gang members were doomed to be caught with the mules creating a trail that led to the perpetrators. Arrests were made only weeks after the shopping trip, in March 2012 with gang members found guilty last month.
"This is an extraordinary case which demonstrates what can be achieved when the Met and its partners work together to tackle trans-national cybercrime,” said Detective Inspector Stewart Garrick of the Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU).
"I hope that these sentences act as a deterrent not just to those who commit cybercrime but also those who seek to benefit from the proceeds of cybercrime.”
Last week the PCeU arrested several suspects in a similar case after a single American Express Black Card acquired using identity theft was allegedly used to fund a £500,000 "Rolex watch" spending spree.