Fraudster jailed after building credit card fraud machine to steal £500,000 from bank customers

‘Audacious criminal’ created device that could impersonate banks and alter his voice, police say

Tim Wyatt
Friday 14 December 2018 11:52 GMT
The machine Tony Muldowney-Colston invented to help him hack into bank accounts
The machine Tony Muldowney-Colston invented to help him hack into bank accounts

A conman who built a device that enabled him to defraud people out of £500,000 has been jailed.

Tony Muldowney-Colston admitted to 11 charges at Southwark Crown Court on Wednesday and was sentenced to 20 months.

Police discovered his bizarre contraption when they raided the computer genius’s home in June.

They also found 32 credit cards, a hard drive with multiple passport details, and a spreadsheet of personal information from a private members’ club in central London.

The device allowed Muldowney-Colston to both impersonate banks when calling customers on the phone and also pretend to be a genuine user when contacting the banks.

It included a feature which meant the 53-year-old could alter his voice to purport to be a different age or even gender.

In total, police estimated he accessed £500,000 from the bank accounts of the victims he duped.

“The scam carried out by Muldowney-Colston affected hundreds of people across the UK, and had the potential to affect many more,” Detective Inspector Philip McInerney, from the Metropolitan Police’s cyber crime unit, said.

“He is an audacious criminal who only recently was released from prison for carrying out very similar offences.

Tony Muldowney-Colston, who has been jailed for 20 months for using his fraud machine to steal £500,000

“He shows no concern for the welfare of any individual or organisation, and has made it clear he will use a range of methods to achieve significant financial gain for himself.”

In 2014, Muldowney-Colston, who has also gone by the name of Tony Colston-Hayter, was jailed for five and a half years for his part in a fraud which stole £1.25m from British banks.

The gang he led used a so-called “trojan horse” device to hijack computers at branches of both Barclays and Santander.

Met detectives began investigating the fraudster in January and eventually gathered enough evidence to search his home in June.

The machine they found was inspected by the Met’s digital crime experts who confirmed it would allow him to access customers’ bank accounts and remove funds.

The conman, the son of a university lecturer and a solicitor, first gained notoriety in the 1980s for throwing wild acid house raves across the home counties.

The Daily Telegraph reported that he also became such a successful professional gambler every casino in Britain banned him.

He then moved to Hong Kong where he reinvented himself as a businessman and set up a company which produced parts for Formula One cars.

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But when he moved back to the UK to marry and start a family he got hooked on Class A drugs and began a life of fraud.

Det Insp McInerney added he was grateful for the assistance offered to the Met by banks hit by Muldowney-Colston’s activities.

“This should send a clear message to anyone considering committing crimes of this nature that we have the tools and methods to identify you and bring you to justice.”

Additional reporting by PA

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