US born Douglas Harvard, a 24 year old living in Leeds and 25 year old Glaswegian, Lee Elwood were both jailed for six and four years respectively after they were found guilty of conspiracy to defraud and launder money.
The two men ran a UK syndicate which used ‘data dumps’ of identities and bank information supplied by Russian criminals in order to remove money from bank accounts through ATM machines. The pair also used cloned credit cards to buy and sell goods online. They also admitted plotting to defraud and to launder money from phishing.
In May 2005, phishing reached its highest level of all time, after declining in January. MessageLabs logged over nine million phishing attacks in this month, over three times the number in April.
Mark Sunner, Chief Technology Officer at MessageLabs, welcomed the stiffer sentencing and commented, “In recent months we have seen a resurgence of targeted phishing attacks for money laundering and identity fraud purposes, largely driven by criminal gangs. Yesterday’s sentencing clearly demonstrates that the issue is being taken very seriously by the UK government and the criminal justice service. Only in May 2005, the Government’s fraud bill was strengthened to include a new fraud offence specifically addressing the perpetrators of phishing attacks; this is clearly being enforced, which is something we welcome strongly.”
“The impact of phishing attacks can be devastating, resulting in huge financial losses for individuals and for a business, it can seriously impact business productivity, cause customer confusion and in many cases, irreversibly damage a company’s brand image and reputation. Criminals have become more and more astute in their delivery of targeted phishing attacks, however, it is reassuring to see the law being strictly enforced to help deter criminal from this kind of fraudulent activity.”
MessageLabs is the world's leading provider of email security and management services with more than 10,000 clients and offices in eight countries. For more information, please visit http://www.messagelabs.com