Bitcoin blackmailer gets jail time

Source: Metropolitan Police Force

A man has been jailed after pleading guilty to blackmail, possession of articles for use in fraud & possession of indecent images of children.

Lewys Martin, 22 (07.12.91) of no fixed abode, but previously from Deal in Kent, was sentenced to four years two months’ imprisonment and given a five-year Sexual Offences Prevention Order (SOPO) at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, 28 November 2014.

Martin had previously pleaded guilty to blackmail, possession of articles for use in fraud and possession of indecent images of children.

Martin received the following sentence:

Count 1: Blackmail - 27 months

Counts 2 and 3: Possession of articles for fraud (namely malware phishing programs and a text file with 740,000 email addresses) - 27 months to run concurrently with count 1

Counts 4 and 5: Possession of indecent images of children (levels 4&5) - 23 months for both counts, to run consecutively with counts 1-3.

Total = 50 months (4 years 2 months). 5 year SOPO

In May 2013, Lloyds Banking Group and The Sun newspaper reported an allegation of blackmail to the Metropolitan Police's Cyber Crime Unit (now part of its cyber and fraud team FALCON). The suspect had demanded payment of approximately £207,000 in Bitcoins, the online currency, threatening exposure of thousands of illegally-obtained bank account details if he did not receive payment. Martin had obtained customer information from phishing details from members of the public, but he was unable to gain access to the bank's computer system.

Anonymisation software had been used to hide the blackmailer's identity. A sample of the phished bank accounts was enclosed to demonstrate he was a genuine blackmailer.

A complex investigation was launched and detectives identified Martin who was subsequently arrested. Police forensic experts examined a seized computer and phone and experts identified evidence linking Martin to the blackmail. Compromised personal banking information that could be used in a fraud was also found along with three malware-based phishing programs designed to steal personal details and data.

A number of indecent images of children of the most serious nature were also discovered. These were not connected to the blackmail investigation.

Detective Chief Inspector Jason Tunn of the Metropolitan Police Cyber Crime Unit said: "I am pleased with today’s sentence which sends out a strong message that this type of crime is taken seriously. Martin pleaded guilty following diligent and complex detective work undertaken by my officers and the support we received from Lloyds Banking Group and The Sun. The MPS is determined to track down and prosecute cyber criminals that seek to defraud businesses and residents of London.

Martin was not able to defeat the bank's security systems but instead chose to target his phishing activity at retail customers. I would like to remind the public to stay safe online. Further security and safety advice can be sought from"

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