£600,000 internet fraud gang faces jail

A gang of internet fraudsters was facing jail today for using a sophisticated computer virus to steal £600,000 from bank customers.

Once the "malicious software" had infected their computers, it waited until users logged on to accounts, checked they had enough money and then insinuated itself into on-line cash transfer procedures.

As authentic looking screen pages appeared with NatWest's logo for "added authenticity", victims were encouraged to tap in their passwords, pin numbers and telephone numbers.

It also took care to quell possible suspicions by insisting the "additional security measures" had been introduced "to keep you secure".

But London's Southwark Crown Court heard nothing could have been further from the truth.

Dominic Connolly, prosecuting, said the Trojan virus used by the gang allowed account holders to continue with their normal transactions while secretly setting up new payee details.

He explained the next step was to rapidly siphon cash into so-called "mule" accounts under the gang's control.

Once there it was moved again, "much of it to Eastern Europe".

"Then a few days later, maybe a week, the unsuspecting bank customer will come to realise money is missing from his account," said counsel.

"In fact, as a result of this Trojan virus fraud very many people - 138 customers - were affected in this way with some £600,000 being fraudulently transferred.

"Some of that money, £140,000, was recouped by NatWest after they became aware of this scam," he added.

The court heard inquiries eventually led police to Uzbekistan national Azim Rahmanov and his home in Scawen Road, Deptford, south-east London.

When police searched the place they found a large amount of incriminating material, including bank cards for the accounts the gang had set up.

Despite further arrests and online efforts to block the virus, others still being hunted by police managed to carry out further internet raids.

Rahmanov, 24, denied one count of conspiracy to defraud and one of transferring criminal property between February 2 and April 9 this year.

He explained that his 25-year-old brother, Azamet and others - who lived with him and have admitted taking part in the scam - were to blame.

None of the incriminating material found on his laptop, on a phone and elsewhere in his room was anything to do with him, he added.

The seven-woman, five-man jury trying him took nearly nine hours to decide he was telling the truth and acquitted him on both counts.

Azamet Rahmanov and three co-defendants, who have variously pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and money laundering counts, will be sentenced on November 13.

After the case a NatWest spokeswoman emphasised: "Our online banking system was not compromised in any way; instead the Trojan software was installed by fraudsters onto vulnerable PCs without the owners being aware.

"The Bank identified this fraud in the very early stages and took action to protect other customers' accounts. We informed the Police Centralised eCrime Unit and assisted them with their investigation, and customers affected by this fraud have been refunded."

She added: "We recognise the sophistication of today's online banking Trojans and that's why we offer our customers free Trustee Rapport security software to protect against this type of fraud; 1.3 million customers are already using it to protect themselves online."

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Sport
Harry Redknapp. Mark Hughes and Ryan Shawcross
footballNews and updates as Queens Park Rangers host the Potters
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
i100... with this review
Voices
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
New Articles
i100
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam