Six men from the London area have been gaoled for their part in a conspiracy to defraud three UK banks of £350,000 by obtaining fake identities over the Internet.
George O'Neill, Ibrahim Sanyaolu, Toluwalaise Ajike, Mark Obisesan, Martin Badejoko and Huseyin Ekinci were sentenced to a combined total of 15 and half years in the biggest conviction achieved by the UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) since its inception two and a half years ago.
The group used false identities obtained on the Internet to forge documents to open bank accounts and apply for loans. NHTCU says credit cards, cheque books and overdraft facilities were used to obtain £315,000 from Lloyds TSB plc and £30,000 from the Halifax and Co-operative banks.
Alerted by Lloyds TSB to the fraud, the unit investigated and arrested the men and retrieved thousands of individual pieces of evidence ranging from passports to utility bills from a variety of addresses in London and the surrounding areas.
The men used the money to buy houses and expensive cars and also invested money in properties in the UK and Nigeria. Cars, including a Porsche, have been seized by the NHTCU under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, as well as cash and jewellery.
Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds, head of the NHTCU, says the case underlines the need for people to do everything they can to protect their identity: "This case highlights the complex sophistication and organised lengths that criminals will go to."