Crime gang jailed after stealing £358k from BT customers

19 February 2020, 20:44

The gang targeted people for their account details
The gang targeted people for their account details. Picture: Hampshire Police
Maddie Goodfellow

By Maddie Goodfellow

An organised crime group who infiltrated the accounts of BT customers as part of a £358,000 have all been jailed.

The gang gained access to more than 2000 people's accounts between May 2014 and July 2016.

They have been jailed for a combined total of 18 years and 2 months.

Police called their phone and email divert scam "elaborate" after they stole £358,345 worth of goods.

The group infiltrated customer's accounts before placing a call divert on their phone lines, or in some cases diverting emails, meaning the offenders could obtain their bank details and other personal information.

This information was then used to make transactions online, in most cases via PayPal, for delivery to their personal addresses.

During their crime spree, the gang purchased Rolex and Breitling watches, Versace clothes, jewellery, furniture and televisions.

When the gang were arrested, group leader Festus Emosivwe put a USB data stick in his mouth and chewed on it when police arrested him, making it impossible to recover any data.

There were seven defendants in the case
There were seven defendants in the case. Picture: Hampshire Police

PSI Stephen Murden said: “We determined that PayPal saw a loss of £205,000, and customers and merchants lost £87,000. However, we believe the true extent of the fraud was not restricted to PayPal or the addresses identified and the overall gain to some of the defendants was likely to be much higher than the amounts identified.

“The information we gathered proved that there was sufficient evidence to bring all eight defendants to court for charges of conspiracy in relation to this sophisticated scam.

"I am pleased that the hard work that went into this lengthy, complex investigation resulted in all eight individuals pleading guilty.”

A BT spokesperson said: “BT takes the security of its customers’ accounts very seriously and we proactively warn customers to be on their guard against scams.

"Fraudsters use various methods to obtain personal or financial details with the ultimate aim of stealing from you.

“In order to protect our customers, we constantly monitor our networks for signs of potentially malicious activity. In this particular case, through detailed analysis of call divert data, our security team became concerned that some BT customers may have unknowingly revealed their personal account details to fraudsters.

"A thorough investigation was launched and our findings were passed on to Hampshire Police.

"We have supported the police with their investigations and are pleased that this has now helped result in the sentencing of eight people with respect to this crime.

“As well as assisting the police, we have also provided support, advice and reassurance to our customers who were the victims of this criminal gang.”

The gang helped themselves to expensive watches and jewellery
The gang helped themselves to expensive watches and jewellery. Picture: Hampshire Police

The gang, who all pled guilty to their charges, were sentenced:

- Festus Emosivwe, 36, of Newcome Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 44 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

- Chloe Maylott, 27, of Purbrook Way, Havant, was jailed for 16 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

- Charles Onwu, 31, of Wells Close, Portsmouth, was jailed for 43 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation

- Victor Ngo, 30, of Lowestoft Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 43 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to convert criminal property.

- Pinelopi Chatzikonstantinou, 30, formerly of Highlands Road, Southsea, was fined £1,000 and a £100 victim surcharge for conspiracy to convert criminal property.

- Adel Qadir, 35, of Woofferton Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 29 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

- Molade Fasuyi, 37, of Methuen Road, Southsea, was jailed for two years for committing fraud by false representation.

- Olukayode Adepoju, 40, of London Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 19 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.

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