Five UK residents were jailed on Friday over a conspiracy to launder money using iTunes gift vouchers.
The gang used stolen credit card details to buy vouchers which they sold at a discount via eBay and other auction sites.
Suhail Tufail, 35, of Rochdale, Lancashire, masterminded the scheme which was estimated to have involved £750,000 worth of fraudulently purchased vouchers and an estimated 7,000 compromised credit and debit cards. The unemployed crook was jailed for five years on Friday at Manchester Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and to money laundering offences.
Mohammed Arfan Rasool, 25, was also jailed for five years, while Raja Zahid Iqbal, 28, was sent down for two years and five months. Kibriya Ahmad, 25, was jailed for two years after pleading guilty to similar fraud and money laundering offences over the same scam.
Imran Aslam, 23, pleaded guilty to possession of dodgy iTunes vouchers at the same hearing, earning him a six month prison sentence. All the jailed suspects lived in Rochdale and all five pleaded guilty.
A further three suspects, who played a lesser role in the sam, avoided jail and received community service orders instead.
A routine car search, after three of the gang arrived in the port of Hull on return from Amsterdam, resulted in the seizure of a number of items from the car, including Rasool's laptop. Examination of the machine by Greater Manchester Police's economic crime unit uncovered evidence of fraud and led to a raid on Rasool's home where two further machines were recovered.
In a statement, Detective Inspector Neal Colburn of the Greater Manchester Police Economic Crime Unit said: "This was a complex fraud on a large scale. The group thought they had a sophisticated scam to launder money, but the pro-active intervention of the police got in their way.
"They did not commit fraud on all the bank card details they had obtained and by working closely with the banking industry measures were put in place to ensure this did not happen again."
eBay, which assisted police in investigating the case, welcomed the convictions. "Criminal activity is not tolerated on our site and we will continue to work alongside law enforcement agencies to ensure that anyone who attempts to commit fraudulent activity on eBay won't get away with it," it said.
The usefulness of iTunes makes it a regular target for cybercrooks. Earlier this month, security firm Sunbelt warned of an iTunes giftcard phishing scam.
Prospective marks were invited to enter the details of an iTunes gift card they wished to "increase in value". Unwary individuals who fell for the ruse would find that their gift card was busted rather than doubled in value.
Last week Sophos warned of spam messages posing as $50 iTunes gift certificates that actually came loaded with scareware (rogue anti-virus software) and Trojans. ®