Exposed: The faces behind cybercrime’s viral menace

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Cyber criminals come in many guises. Whether they are web voyeurs, penniless students, disgruntled employees or organised gangs, their cases are warnings to copycat offenders and potential victims.

The money mule

Penniless students are often recruited as money mules by allowing their bank accounts to briefly shelter stolen cash on behalf of organised gang leaders.

More than £250,000 passed through Ravi Jaglan’s accounts in an 18-month period while he was studying mechanical engineering at South Tyneside College, in South Shields.

Yet a court heard he only kept £500 with the bulk quickly moving along a chain of similar mule accounts to disguise its passage and finally out of the country.

The scam saw other gang members make calls to unsuspecting victims telling them their accounts had been hacked and that they needed to transfer their remaining funds to more secure alternatives.

But the recipient of the cash was Jaglan, 23, of Dean Road, South Shields, who was jailed for two years and eight months after admitting money laundering offences in January 2016.

The webcam pervert

While the motives of many cyber criminals are financial, a number also have more sordid intentions.

Stefan Rigo used the Blackshades malware software programme to take control of webcams belonging to users – including people he knew – who unwittingly clicked onto his email links and attachments.

This allowed him to leer remotely as some of his victims engaged in sexual activities on Skype and similar computer programmes.

Rigo, 33, of Leeds, was traced after using his ex-girlfriend’s bank details to pay for the malware.

He admitted voyeurism charges, and in September 2015 Leeds magistrates ordered him to complete a 40-week suspended sentence and 200 hours of unpaid work.

He was also ordered to sign the Sex Offenders’ Register for seven years and to forfeit all his computer equipment.

Angela McKenna, senior investigating officer for the National Cybe Crime Unit (NCCU), said: “Users of these tools are continuing to find that, despite having no physical contact or interaction with their victims, they can still be identified, tracked down and brought to justice.”

The disgruntled employee

A trusted Morrisons auditor cost the supermarket giant about £2million after abusing his position by stealing the personal details of nearly 100,000 fellow employees.

The information, including staff names, addresses and bank details, was uploaded on to websites as part of what of an apparent ongoing grudge over previous accusations that he dealt in legal highs at work.

Bradford Crown Court head Skelton, 43, of Water Street, Liverpool, also attempted to cover his tracks by setting up a fake email trail to implicate a colleague.

He was jailed for eight years in July 2015 after he was found guilty by a jury of fraud, securing unauthorised access to computer material and disclosing personal data.

Carbon credits conmen

Bitcoin is the current virtual currency of choice demanded in countless online ransoms.

Yet carbon credits – permits allowing firms or countries to emit carbon dioxide – have also proved a lucrative target for cyber gangs.

Knowing that allowances could be legally traded for cash as a carrot to reduce emissions, a Lancashire-based gang registered a bogus Polish firm in Lichtenstein before hacking into the Czech Republic carbon registry to steal 1.25m credits.

With detection delayed by a bomb hoax, the credits were already sold on by the time the theft was discovered in January 2011.

The resulting three-year investigation ended with Ruman Patel, 31, of Blackburn, Hanif Patel, of Elgin Street, Preston, Mohammed Hanif Patel, 53, of St Thomas’s Road, and Ayub Ibrahim, 60, of Lees Hall Road, Dewsbury, jailed between 32 months and seven years as part of the £6million fraud plot.

The online “hactivists”

While there is evidence the Lancashire gang knew each other personally before their plot, four members of the Anonymous hacking group were from different parts of the country and formed their criminal alliance online.

They took part in denial of service attacks (DoS), in which computer systems or websites are paralysed by an intolerable number of simultaneous requests, with one costing payments management giant PayPal £3.5million.

Ringleader Christopher Weatherhead, 22, of Holly Road, Northampton, was jailed for 18 months in January 2013 for conspiring to impair the operation of computers.

Another plotter, a 24-year-old man from Hartlepool, left Anonymous before the PayPal attack and received a six-month suspended sentence after admitting the same offence a month earlier.

The computer student

Think refusing to co-operate will help your case when the police come calling?

Northumbria University computer science Christopher Wilson, 22, of Mitford Close, Washington, gave Northumbria Police 50 bogus passwords to prevent access to his computer when they quizzed him over his possible involvement into a 
cyber attack on their own systems.

While any link with hacking inquiry could not be established, Wilson, who has Asperger’s Syndrome, was still jailed for six months after admitting failing to disclose a password in breach of Regulatory Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

The bogus salesman

Respected online retail platforms will pursue those who seek to take advantage of their good name.

When James Symons, 32, of Corsham, Wiltshire, conned Amazon customers nationwide out of £1.1million for televisions and other goods he had no intention of delivering, the company began to track him down through his myriad of online aliases.

He was eventually jailed for two years and eight months for his four-year scam in April this year after admitting five fraud charges at London’s Old Bailey.

The airline hacker

Airline giant British Airways was left at least £100,000 out of pocket when its website was left inaccessible for just one hour by computer hacker Paul Dixon.

Dixon also targeted Durham Police and Police Scotland from a property in South Shields in October 2014.

Dixon, 23, of The Avenue, Seaham, County Durham, launched Denial of Service (Dos) attacks in which computer networks or associated websites are paralysed by a simultaneous bombardment of phantom requests to use their services.

Dixon has admitted five offences under the Computer Misuse Act.

Further details about his offences will be revealed when he is sentenced at Newcastle Crown Court at the end of July.