Five online fraudsters sent to prison for £10m fraud
A gang of five online fraudsters have been convicted and jailed for offences relating to a £10million ‘payment diversion fraud’.
The convictions and sentences follow a trial at Southwark Crown Court that started in October 2019 and concluded on Thursday, 27 February.
At the same court on Friday, 28 February they were sentenced as follows:
[A] Olumuyiwa Ogunduyile, 39 [5.8.80], a Nigerian national of Pier Way Greenwich was arrested at his home address on 17 April 2019 and was charged on 18 April 2019 with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property. He was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and seven and a half years for conspiracy to convert criminal property concurrent.
[B] Alex Enyiagu, 50, [1.1.70] a Nigerian national of Whitings Road, Barnet, was arrested at his home address and charged on 14 May 2019 with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property. He was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and seven years for conspiracy to convert criminal property concurrent.
[C] Mba Atuonwu, 48 [07.01.72] a Nigerian national of Ayron Road, South Ockendon, Essex, was arrested at his home address and charged on 22 May 2019 with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property. He was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and six years for conspiracy to convert criminal property concurrent.
[D] Satish Kotinadhuni, 44 [26.02.76] an Indian national of Skeffington Road, E6, was arrested at his home address and charged on 6 June 2019 with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property. He was sentenced to five years for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and six years for conspiracy to convert criminal property concurrent.
[E] Declan Nathaniel Bannerman, 27 [20.12.92] a German born Ghanaian of Eden Road, Sevenoaks. He was arrested at his home address on 1-8-19 and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property. He was sentenced to five years for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and four years for conspiracy to convert criminal property concurrent.
Officers based in the North West London Economic Crime Unit which forms part of the Met’s Specialist Crime Directorate, identified a total of 235 separate frauds, committed from 2014 to 2019, totalling £9,218,522.76.
A number of victims were traced with the help of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau whose Action Fraud service allows both domestic and overseas victims to report fraud online.
The main method employed by the gang was the use of Malware to steal the log in credentials of email accounts belonging to businesses and private individuals worldwide. This would allow the fraudsters to monitor the chosen email accounts for high value financial transactions. Having identified a legitimate financial transaction between two parties, email conversations were intercepted and spoof emails sent so that victims were duped into paying funds into UK based ‘mule’ bank accounts controlled by the fraudsters instead of their intended legitimate destination.
Another method involved conning victims out of thousands of pounds by selling investments in ‘Binary currency trading schemes’ that did not exist.
Victims ranged from high profile individuals and organisations to private individuals who thought that they were paying money to their conveyancing solicitor during a property transaction.
In order for the fraud to operate, a ready supply of mule accounts were needed. A total of 100 mule accounts featured in this investigation.
The defendants were:
Olumuyiwa Ogunduyile was the boss who brought together those committing the pure frauds and those supplying mule bank accounts into which the proceeds would be paid. When arrested on 17 April 2019, he attempted to destroy evidence by placing three iPhones in the washing machine and setting on a wash cycle. Officers recovered the phones when the machine had completed its cycle and evidence was still available for extraction on two of the three handsets.
Alex Enyiagu organised the removal of much of the UK funds by feeding the monies through an informal ‘Hawala’ foreign exchange scheme. In this scheme, the fraudulent money was used to pay for vast quantities of goods being exported by legitimate companies to Nigeria who would in turn pay the fraudsters in Nigeria, unwittingly believing that they were dealing with Hawala agents.
Mba Atuonwu also played the part of a Hawala foreign exchange agent, although he would facilitate the return of UK Sterling back to the UK from Nigeria for the benefit of the fraudsters.
Satish Kotinadhuni was a ‘mule herder’. He would procure hundreds other people’s bank accounts for use in the fraud. Such accounts were sourced from dishonest people who were prepared to ‘sell on’ their own bank accounts for a fee whilst knowing that they would be used for fraud.
Declan Nathaniel Bannerman was also a mule herder, but he procured accounts from young people whom he would contact on social media such as Snapchat. The youngsters were often tempted into allowing the use of their bank accounts in the belief that they would make some easy money.
Bannerman also played a leading role in the investment fraud by selling investments that did not exist. Just one of the victims lost £185,000 in a non-existent binary currency trading scheme. He had been duped into buying an initial £2,500 worth of currency. However he was re-targeted by the fraudsters over and over again over a period of a year in follow on frauds loosing £185,000 of his life savings.
Detective Constable Chris Collins of Economic Crime yesterday said
“I am very pleased with today’s verdicts. This has been a long trial due to the defendants’ refusal to accept their guilt despite overwhelming evidence.
“A common feature in this case was the use of mule bank accounts. I advise anyone conducting financial business by email to verify the bank account they are sending their money to by contacting the intended recipient by means other than email.
“Furthermore people should be aware that a genuine investment company would not use different private bank accounts in different names in a legitimate transaction.”
ActionFraud is the UK’s national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre.
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