Cheeseburger Loving £1m Cyber Crooks Convicted

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe’s Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

They stole a woman’s life savings to buy cheeseburgers and gold – now they’re facing jail

Cyber crooks who robbed a woman’ of her £1 million life savings, and then spent much of the money on cheeseburgers and gold, have been convicted.

In late 2011, the victim, a British woman who now lives in South Africa, was duped into handing over her details to a 24-year-old phisher Tamer Hassanin Zaky Abdelhamid, who had created a site that looked like her bank’s online portal.

burger - shutterstock - © workerAbdelhamid then sold the data for a measly £3,200 to Rilwan Adesegun Oshodi, who employed  Annette Jabeth to call the bank posing as the victim to change the contact details associated with the account. That would mean, when big transactions were made, the victim would not know of them.

Cyber crooks set to do time

The savings were then pilfered and sent to other accounts, including a number run by money mules. Much of the money was spent by five of the eight individuals eventually convicted during a spree in the January sales of 2012. That’s when they bought untold amounts of cheeseburgers, as well as gold and high-performance PCs.

Arrests were made in March, April and September 2012, thanks to coordinated work involving the Metropolitan Police Service’s Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), the banking industry and various specialist cyber hubs across the UK.

When police raided  Oshodi’s home, they seized computers holding details of over 11,000 credit cards, of which 8,471 belonged to UK customers. The theft of those cards cost the banking industry an estimated £2.5 million.

Sentencing for six of those involved, including Abdelhamid, Oshodi and Jabeth, will be confirmed on  9 and 10 May 2013.

“In this case the internet was used to allow disparate criminals to collude regardless of global location, time zone or legal framework. The victim of the crime was in South Africa while the suspects were in Egypt and the UK,” said Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, of the PCeU.

“While the internet can be a fantastic resource, it can also be used to commit old crimes in new ways. It is important that internet users are alert to the risks posed by the ingenuity of online criminals who seek to steal our money.

“Today’s sentences are testament to how seriously we take this type of crime and should stand as a deterrent to anyone who might consider phishing or benefitting from phishing.”

McMurdie is currently preparing to help the PCeU and the cyber arm of the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) merge, to eventually create the National Cyber Crime Unit.

As TechWeekEurope found in its exclusive report, there is much nervousness surrounding the formation of the NCCU, given there is little time left to decide on the location of the HQ, its leadership and its workforce, ahead of the October launch.

Are you a security expert? Try our quiz!