A gang of fraudsters who committed millions of pounds worth of theft from businesses and individuals in the UK and Abroad have been jailed for a total of 43 years.
The 10 individuals were convicted after a gruelling six month trail for their roles in a large scale diversion fraud, where they used hacking software to target their victims.
Several victims were traced through the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau and the Action Fraud service, which allows both domestic and overseas victims to report fraud online. Officers from the Met’s Falcon Fraud Squad launched the investigation after receiving referrals from the reporting Service. The 10 defendants were identified and have been convicted as follows and published on the Action Fraud website:
Bonaventure Sunday Chukwuka, of Loughton, Essex was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, and conspiracy to conceal/transfer criminal property (money laundering). He was also found guilty of possession of a prohibited item (a phone) in prison – sentenced to 11 years’ imprisonment.
Andrew Chike Chukwuka, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal/transfer criminal property – sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment.
Emmanuel Chike Chukwuka of Loughton, Essex was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud. He was found not guilty of conspiracy to money launder – sentenced to two years and eight months’ imprisonment.
Christian Chukwuka of Basildon, Essex was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal/transfer criminal property – sentenced to five years and nine months’ imprisonment.
Nadeem Abbasi, of Wembley pleaded guilty to conspiracy to convert/conceal criminal property – sentenced to two years and three months’ months imprisonment.
Mansoor Zaman, of no fixed abode was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation, and conspiracy to conceal/transfer criminal property. He was sentenced to six years and nine months’ imprisonment.
Queen Chukwuka, of Loughton was found guilty of acquiring/possessing criminal property – sentenced to a community order
Grace Plange Chukwuka, of Buckhurst Hill, Essex was found guilty of acquiring/possessing criminal property – conditional discharge.
Ionut Relu Muresan, From East London, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to money launder – sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
Mohammed Rahman, of Peckham was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to conceal/transfer criminal property – to be sentenced at the same court on Monday, 13 May.
During the trail the court heard how Bonaventure Chukwuka led an organised criminal gang that targeted individuals and businesses. The gang used computer malware to intercept and steal log-in details of email accounts belonging to businesses and private individuals worldwide. Detectives working on the case identified a total of 228 separate frauds committed by the gang between 2014 and 2018, during this time the gang racked in over £10 Million.
The court heard from 69 victims during the trial, many of whom were unable to recover their losses. However, following the conviction, officers will now begin confiscation proceeding under the Proceeds of Crime Act and try to recover as much of the stolen money as possible. One of the fraud victims was a small construction company with a small team of employees based in the south west of England. It was defrauded out of nearly £13,000 by the group in 2017 and had to close as a result.
DC Chris Collins of the Falcon Fraud Squad said: “This gang of fraudsters were unscrupulous, organised and prolific, and over a period of four years stole millions of pounds from unsuspecting businesses and individuals, and lived an extremely comfortable life with the profits. The frauds were brazen, and this gang clearly thought they could continue with their criminal lifestyle without detection. However, arrests followed what was a complex investigation carried out diligently by the Met’s Falcon Fraud Squad, with hundreds of fraud reports being reviewed by detectives trawling through financial records. The evidence amassed by detectives and presented during the trial pointed towards a large-scale, planned fraud operation which involved payments arranged between two parties being successfully intercepted and diverted by this gang, into “mule” accounts set up for the purpose of receiving stolen funds. I hope this conviction sends a strong message to online fraudsters: we have the ways and means of tracing you and we will seek to bring you to justice.”
Commander Karen Baxter, National Police Coordinator for Economic Crime at the City of London Police, said: “As the national lead force for fraud, Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau are responsible for ensuring that the UK can better identify, investigate and detect fraud and cyber-crime. As a result of the reports made to Action Fraud, the Falcon Unit has been able to achieve justice for the hundreds of victims affected by these substantial crimes. This case is a shining example of law enforcement using a joined-up approach to combat fraud and cyber-crime.”