"This was a complicated and protracted investigation"
A gang of robbers have been found guilty of hacking into the email address of a businessman and stealing £3 million. One member fled in the middle of the trial.
The five men were found guilty of money laundering at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday, May 22, 2019.
It was a highly sophisticated scam that took the Metropolitan Police’s Cyber Crime Unit more than four years to bring the robbers to justice.
The men were responsible for hacking into the email account of one victim. This enabled them to send emails without his knowledge and preventing him from viewing messages from his accountant and bank.
In January 2015, they sent several emails from his account to his bank and requesting payments to be made to several people.
They used fake invoices to request the payments, linked to account numbers belonging to the men in the gang.
Between January 8 and 13, 2015, around £1.3 million was transferred into three accounts, one of which belonged to Meharoof Muttiyan, aged 35.
The gang took a total of more than £3 million from the man’s bank accounts.
Muttiyan made further transfers in an attempt to mask the money. He transferred the money through the bank accounts of a petrol station, an insurance claims company and a computer business owned by the gang.
Detectives identified each suspect by using banking, phone and computer records.
Over the course of several months, they connected evidence of the money trail, communication patterns and the ownership of the devices linked to the robberies.
They raided each of the suspect’s homes and seized more than 50 electronic items including mobile phones, computers and digital storage devices.
Devices were examined which revealed messages between Anthony Oshodi, aged 49, and 32-year-old Mohammed Siddique discussing the stolen money.
Siddique also exchanged instructions with Foyjul Islam, aged 51, on how to launder the money and prevent being caught.
The investigation revealed Oshodi’s links to the hacking and his outsourcing of the laundering of £600,000 of the funds to Siddique.
He was linked to additional laundering offences after two envelopes were seized from his home during the raid.
One contained five stolen cheques, including one worth £51,000, and the other contained five stolen bank cards, one with a balance of £28,000.
Siddique’s computer also had copies of 1,000 passports of other people and bank cards which were used to create false identities.
DC Barry Steel, of the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit, said:
“This was a complicated and protracted investigation which uncovered a network of apparently legitimate businessmen involved in large scale laundering of the proceeds of online criminality.
“Officers on this case spent years tracing the actions of this group in order to bring them before the courts.
“They trawled through thousands of pieces of evidence and linked each suspect to this fraud.”
“Oshodi fled three weeks into this trial, but due to the level of evidence produced against him, the jury were able to convict in his absence. We will continue to pursue Oshodi and bring him to justice for his part in this crime.
“I would ask anyone with information regarding his whereabouts to contact the Cyber Crime Unit directly on 0207 230 8475.”
Oshodi, of Eltham, London, was found guilty of one count of money laundering, one count of possession of a false identity document and three counts of possession of articles for use in fraud.
However, he fled three weeks into the trial and was convicted in absence.
Siddique, of Dagenham, organised the distribution of £600,000 and was found to be involved in two separate money-laundering offences. He was convicted of three counts of money laundering.
Muttiyan, of East Ham, was found in possession of a bogus cheque worth £28,000 cheque and found guilty of money laundering.
Mohammed Rafeek, aged 34, of East Ham, was found guilty of two counts of money laundering. He led the process of receiving and distributing over £250,000.
Islam, of Poplar, was convicted of money laundering. He sourced accounts to receive the stolen funds and facilitated the transfers to evade detection.
Mohammed Asif, aged 30, of Sheffield, was found not guilty of money laundering at the trial.
The jury failed to reach a verdict on a money laundering charge against 48-year-old Muhammed Rashaduzzaman, of Dagenham.
The gang members will be sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, June 21, 2019.