Cyber fraudsters who used malicious software to con victims out of tens of thousands of pounds have been jailed.
Usman Khan, 32, Abhay Singh, 33, and Naveed Pasha, 56, all admitted charges of conspiracy to conceal, disguise, convert, transfer and remove criminal property.
The case was over a long-term cyber fraud and money laundering operation committed by a “sophisticated criminal group” between January 2016 and January 2019.
The conspirators were able to access tens of thousands of pounds in personal and business accounts using malicious software to infiltrate computers.
They laundered huge sums by removing money from the victim accounts and transferring it to ones they controlled known as “mule” accounts.
They then made a final transaction and withdrew the cash at banks across the country.
Khan had a leading role in scheme, controlling it through the use of false names and a network of trusted criminal associates.
He was first brought to the attention of authorities in 2017 during a separate investigation into 39-year-old fraudster Vugar Mollachiev, who was jailed for nine years.
During a search of Mollachiev’s house it was discovered that Khan had been involved in conversations on an encrypted message platform, providing evidence of Khan searching for software to gain access to bank accounts.
It also showed thousands of conversations between February 2016 and March 2017 in which he discussed the fraudulent transfer of up to £40,000 a day.
Further investigation identified thirteen accounts being used by Khan to launder fraudulent funds, adopting multiple identities and setting up gas and tax accounts to legitimise his activity under each alias.
In March 2017 Khan’s group defrauded a school out of more than £15,000 and in November of the same year stole a victim’s life savings of approximately £45,000.
They were also involved in the theft of a total of more than £126,000 from the personal accounts of three other victims.
Khan was jailed for four years and six months, Singh was handed a three year and four month sentence behind bars and Pasha was given a two year prison term suspended for one year and nine months.
DS Gavin McKay from Central Specialist Crime said it had been a “lengthy and highly complex investigation” and he hoped the sentences sent “a clear message to anyone considering carrying out such crimes that we have the ability and expertise to track you down and bring you to justice.”
He added that the impact of the crime on its victims “should not be underestimated”.
“This group of criminals stole tens of thousands from individuals, businesses, schools and other organisations.
“They showed no regard for the livelihoods of members of the public, or the future of some businesses during the course of their actions.”
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