Six British men were sentenced today to a combined total of 15 and a half years imprisonment for involvement in a major ID theft and fraud conspiracy. The fraud, which netted the gangs £350,000 over two years, is reckoned to be the biggest case of its kind to date in the UK .
The men used false identities obtained on the net to open bank accounts, obtain credit card and apply for loans and overdrafts. Through this subterfuge they obtained £315,000 from Lloyds TSB and a total of £30,000 from the Halifax and Cooperative banks.
Alerted by Lloyds TSB to the fraud, the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) investigated and arrested six men from the London area. As part of the investigation, police recovered thousands of individual pieces of evidence ranging from passports to utility bills from a variety of addresses in London and the Home Counties.
The NHTCU reports that the men used "sophisticated techniques to obtain false identities over the Internet". The six used information from a mortgage auction site to obtain the details of people who had recently died. They then applied for accounts in the names of these people, while simultaneously applying to redirect mail to addresses where the fraudsters could pick up 'ghost mail' and 'confirm' fraudulent applications.
The men used the money to live the high life, buying houses and high performance cars, as well as investing money in properties in the UK and Nigeria. Cars, including a Porsche, cash and jewellery have been seized by the NHTCU under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002.
Confronted by the evidence against them, all six pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud Lloyds TSB.
They were sentenced today at Wood Green Crown Court, where the following jail terms were imposed by Her Honour Judge Stern QC:
- George O’Neill, 39, from Enfield in Middlesex - 2.5 years imprisonment
- Ibrahim Sanyaolu, 24, from Chadwell Heath in Essex - 4.5 years
- Toluwalaise Ajike, 29, of no fixed abode - two years
- Mark Obeisan, 28, from London - two years
- Martin Badejoko, 30, from Chadwell Heath in Essex - three years
- Huseyin Ekinci, aged 21, from London - 18 months
The case is the biggest conviction achieved by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit since its inception three years ago.
Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds, head of the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit, said: "Identity theft is a growing problem, particularly over the Internet, and this case underlines the need for people to do everything they can to protect that most precious commodity - their identity.” ®