"This group of criminals stole tens of thousands"
Three fraudsters were sentenced for using malicious software to steal large sums of cash from victims across the United Kingdom.
The case focused on long-term cyber fraud and money laundering operation committed by a crime group between January 2016 and January 2019.
Usman Khan, Abhay Singh and Naveed Pasha were part of the group who infiltrated computers using malware. This enabled them to access the bank accounts of individuals and businesses.
They stole large sums of money before transferring it to other “mule” accounts, which they controlled.
The fraudsters would move the money once again before withdrawing it at banks across the country.
Khan, aged 32, of Birmingham, used aliases and the support of criminal associates to control the entire operation.
He first came to the attention of officers following the arrest and conviction of Vugar Mollachiev, aged 39, of Berkeley Gardens, London, in March 2017.
Mollachiev pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and was jailed for nine years.
Several electronic devices were seized from his house. The analysis revealed 46,700 lines of interaction located on an encrypted message platform, which identified Khan.
Within the messages, officers found evidence from April 2016 of Khan searching for software, which he could use to access people’s bank accounts.
At the time Khan provided and controlled bank accounts to allow fraudulently obtained money to be transferred through.
The money would later be withdrawn and supplied to a criminal network.
Officers also found messages detailing Khan’s desire to become further involved in the operation.
Between February 2016 and March 2017, Khan was involved in thousands of conversations discussing the fraudulent movement of up to £40,000 a day into mule bank accounts from both individual and business victims.
On March 2, 2016, the owner of a private company found two fraudulent withdrawals, both for around £24,000, had been completed on the company’s online banking platform.
The encrypted messages had mentioned the company and the account holder’s name.
Investigations revealed that thirteen accounts were being used by Khan to launder the stolen funds. Throughout the fraud, Khan created different accounts under multiple identities.
In March 2017, the fraudsters stole over £15,000 from a school. They defrauded a woman out of £45,000 in November 2017. In March 2017 and May 2017, they stole £10,000 and £16,600 respectively from various personal accounts.
Between February and October 2018, officers monitored Khan. They witnessed him, Singh, aged 33, of Abingdon, and Pasha, aged 56, of Birmingham, making large withdrawals and deposits at various banks.
The fraudsters were also responsible for stealing £100,000 from one victim in May 2018.
On January 30, 2019, Khan was arrested during a police search of his home. Mobile phones, a laptop and banking material were seized.
On the same day, Pasha was arrested at his home. He admitted the offence, saying he needed the money to support his family. Several mobile phones were seized.
Singh was also arrested. Driving licences, bank cards belonging to other people and quantities of cash were recovered.
At Birmingham Crown Court, the three men pleaded guilty to the charges against them.
DS Gavin McKay, of Central Specialist Crime, said:
“The impact of this fraud upon individuals and businesses both small and large should not be underestimated.”
“This group of criminals stole tens of thousands from individuals, businesses, schools and other organisations.
“They showed no regard for the livelihoods of members of the public, or the future of some businesses during the course of their actions.
“I am pleased with the sentence these individuals have received. It should send a clear message to anyone considering carrying out such crimes that we have the ability and expertise to track you down and bring you to justice.
“This has been a lengthy and highly complex investigation, and I am incredibly proud of my colleagues’ endeavours in bringing these three men before the courts.
“Fraud is often highly difficult to investigate and prosecute, but I want to reassure the public that we will do all we can to identify and arrest those responsible for such crimes.
“I would also like to thank the National Crime Agency (NCA) for their assistance in this investigation.”
Phil Larratt, of the NCA, added: “Cybercriminals rely heavily on money launderers like Khan and his associates who, in this case, ensured a criminal network were able to access thousands of pounds they stole from victims.
“We are committed to supporting and working with our partners, both nationally and internationally, to target those involved in cybercrime and prevent further people in the UK being defrauded.
“This was a highly complex investigation that dismantled a cybercrime and money laundering organised crime group.”
“Today’s result demonstrates the benefit of collaborative working across Team Cyber UK.”
My London News reported that on November 29, 2019, Khan was jailed for four years and six months. Singh was jailed for three years and four months. Pasha received a two-year sentence, suspended for one year and nine months.