The Inner London Crown Court in the United Kingdom has sentenced a 24-year-old Ghanaian fraudster to two years and nine months in prison for “conspiring” to defraud the UK telecommunications industry and UK banking industry,” ABC News can report.
Emanuel Poku, who resided in London, was arrested in April this year after harvesting details from thousands of bank customers to finance his luxury holidays abroad.
During the hearing of the case in the London Court last Friday, Poku pleaded guilty to conspiring to defraud the UK telecommunications industry and UK banking industry, possession of an article used in fraud and possession of a false passport.
He was consequently sentenced to 33 months imprisonment and also received additional prison sentences of 15 months and seven months, both to run concurrently.
His arraignment before court followed a successful investigation by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist police unit sponsored by the banking industry that targets the criminal gangs responsible for fraud.
According to the DCPCU, Poku committed £50,000 of fraud between January and April 2019 after tricking customers into giving away their financial and personal details by sending out thousands of “smishing”4 text messages imitating banks and mobile phone companies.
The messages, the DCPCU added, contained links to fake websites that would ask unsuspecting victims to enter their personal information, which would then be used to commit fraud. The fraudster also used ‘sim swaps’5 to complete fraudulent transfers and purchases on customers’ accounts.
A search of his property uncovered several counterfeit IDs and bank cards, over £12,000 in cash, dozens of sim cards, as well as laptops and mobile phones that had been used to commit fraud.
Internal analysis by the DCPCU police officers found these devices contained over 500,000 individual mobile numbers, 35,000 card numbers and several pieces of software used to send out bulk text messages.
The customer data found on these devices was subsequently linked to over £2 million of reported fraud losses.
In addition, several “phishing” websites were discovered on the laptops that imitated genuine phone companies and payment service providers and that were used to harvest victims’ personal details.
Detective Sergeant Ben Hobbs, who investigated the case for the DCPCU, said “we were able to identify this fraudster and bring him to justice, after working closely with the mobile phone companies involved.”
He urged people to be on the lookout for such scams and desist from sharing their bank information on platforms whose authenticity cannot be verified.
“Never automatically click on a link in an unexpected text message or email, as it could be a fraudster trying to harvest your personal and bank details. Instead contact the company directly using a known email or phone number,” he said.