A cyber criminal has been handed a three-year prison sentence after running an online scam that defrauded victims of almost £400,000.
Manchester-based Olajide Onikoyi targeted students by sending phishing emails asking for information relating to their student loans. The students were directed to a bogus website, allowing Onikoyi to gather their financial data to extract money from their accounts.
In total 238 victims were identified as having been scammed by Onikoyi and a total of £393,000 was stolen. One victim lost as much as £19,000.
The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) investigated the case, led by the now-disbanded Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU). The PCeU is now part of the wider National Crime Agency (NCA).
The PCeU worked alongside Greater Manchester Police, the Student Loans Company and the banks of those affected by the scam, as well as internet service providers (ISPs) to help trace Onikoyi’s involvement. They also accessed data from the laptops of victims to help trace the emails back to Onikoyi.
On Friday, he was sentenced to three years in prison for conspiracy to defraud and nine months imprisonment for money laundering, to run consecutively.
Detective chief inspector of the MPS Cyber Crime Unit Jason Tunn said the arrest and conviction of Onikoyi underlined the scale of cybercrime threats facing UK citizens.
“My officers worked doggedly to secure Onikoyi’s conviction. They examined numerous leads to identify members of this phishing gang, of which Onikoyi was a key member.
“He played a significant role in the scam by systematically targeting British students and UK financial institutions in order to steal large amounts of money that were then dispersed across numerous bank accounts."
Tunn also confirmed bank accounts and properties connected to Onikoyi have been frozen under the Proceeds of Crime Act.
The incident underlines the widespread cyber scams and frauds that threaten innocent web users, as criminals use every means possible to try and trick citizens. The NCA is attempting to lead a more co-ordinated fight against cyber criminals in 2014.
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