Guilty!

UK police hope an internet crime gang has ‘logged off’ for good after being sentenced to a total of ten years in prison. The pair were jailed after stealing US$11.8 million in a phishing spree.

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By  Simon Duddy Published  July 3, 2005

UK police hope an internet crime gang has ‘logged off’ for good after being sentenced to a total of ten years in prison. The pair were jailed after stealing US$11.8 million in a phishing spree. Douglas Havard, a 24 year old American living in the UK, was found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and launder money and was sentenced to six years in prison. Fellow phisher Lee Elwood, a 25 year old from the UK, received a four year jail sentence for the same offences. The court heard how the two men ran a credit card cloning operation, which used stolen financial information obtained through phishing scams. The bank accounts of victims were then looted, and their identities used to buy and sell goods online. The criminals, who were active on underground websites such as Shadowcrew, were said to live a lavish lifestyle. The UK’s National Hi Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) is working closely with law enforcement agencies in other countries to try to track down others involved in the crime spree, as it is believed much of the stolen money was sent to hackers in Eastern Europe. Havard is reported to be facing additional counterfeiting and armed robbery charges in Texas. Experts at antivirus firm Sophos have reminded internet users to protect themselves online. “It is essential that anyone who uses the internet should be properly defended against the increasing amount of criminal activity we are seeing online. Everyone should practise safe computing and protect themselves with up-to-date security software,” says Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. “These sentences send out a strong message that the authorities are not going to turn a blind eye to phishers and identity fraudsters,” he explains. The Middle East has recently seen a deluge of phishing e-mails purporting to be from reputable sources such as banks. The e-mails ask for user’s account details, which are then used to rob those foolish enough to reply.

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