Officers identified a total of 235 separate frauds
Indian national Satish Kotinadhuni, aged 44, was jailed for a total of 11 years for his role in a £9 million online fraud conspiracy.
He was among five others who were jailed for running the payment diversion fraud, which included stealing login details of individuals and companies and conning them to pay into ‘mule’ bank accounts.
Kotinadhuni was arrested at his home in east London on June 6, 2019. He was charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
The Met Police said:
“Satish Kotinadhuni was a ‘mule herder’. He would procure hundreds of other people’s bank accounts for use in the fraud.
“Such accounts were sourced from dishonest people who were prepared to ‘sell on’ their own bank accounts for a fee whilst knowing that they would be used for fraud.”
Officers identified a total of 235 separate frauds, committed from 2014 to 2019, totalling £9,218,522.76.
The main method employed by the gang was the use of malware to steal the login details of email accounts belonging to businesses and private individuals worldwide.
This would allow the fraudsters to monitor the chosen email accounts for high-value financial transactions.
After identifying a legitimate financial transaction between two parties, email conversations were intercepted and bogus emails were sent so that victims were conned into paying money into the UK-based ‘mule’ bank accounts.
Another method involved conning victims out of thousands of pounds by selling investments in ‘binary currency trading schemes’ that were non-existent.
Victims ranged from high-profile individuals and organisations to those who thought that they were paying their solicitor for a property deal.
Several victims were traced with the help of the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau whose Action Fraud service allows both domestic and overseas victims to report fraud online.
The Met revealed that 100 mule accounts were featured in the investigation.
On February 28, 2020, at Southwark Crown Court, Kotinadhuni was jailed for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and six years for conspiracy to convert criminal property. The sentences will run concurrently.
Detective Constable Chris Collins said:
“This has been a long trial due to the defendants’ refusal to accept their guilt despite overwhelming evidence.”
“A common feature, in this case, was the use of mule bank accounts.
“I advise anyone conducting financial business by email to verify the bank account they are sending their money to by contacting the intended recipient by means other than email.
“Furthermore, people should be aware that a genuine investment company would not use different private bank accounts in different names in a legitimate transaction.”
Nigerian national Olumuyiwa Ogunduyile, who supposedly led the scam, was sentenced to six years for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and seven-and-a-half years for conspiracy to convert criminal property, to run concurrently.
Two other Nigerians and a German-born Ghanian were among the other gang members jailed.