A conman who scammed £113 million In UK’s biggest cyber scam is jailed for 11 years.
Feezan Choudhary was jailed in 2016 for 11 years after a court heard how he had orchestrated a huge scam where he targeted 750 RBS and Lloyds customers and stole a combined total of £113 million from their accounts.
“Vishing” or “voice phishing” is a type of phone fraud in which the scammer manipulates the victim into sharing private financial information which can then be used to make cash transfers. Choudhary was dubbed “The Voice” by police because he put on Scottish, Welsh and posh English accents while posing as officials from the banks’ fraud departments on the phone. He raked in more than £3m a month and splashed out on luxury motors including a Bentley and a Lamborghini.
Choudhary was jailed for 11 years in September 2016 after he admitted conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money. He returned to Southwark Crown Court for a confiscation hearing under the Proceeds of Crime Act. Edward Franklin, prosecuting, said after taking into account expenditure during the course of the fraud Choudhary’s benefit was £19m. Franklin said: “Of that £19m we conclude that £14.8m is recoverable. The defendant liked to conceal that he owned any property by getting other people to purchase it.”
It is estimated that he spent “around £3m” in spending sprees in Harrods alone, using other people to buy Rolexes and other luxury goods on his behalf. Choudhary and several accomplices were eventually caught after ripping off 750 victims in the biggest cyber-fraud the Metropolitan Police has ever seen. Stolen funds were moved to a bank account “at the touch of a button” and then distributed across a number of other accounts before the cash was withdrawn by “money mules”.
What is Vishing?
Vishing involves a fraudster making a phone call to a potential victim, posing as someone from a bank or building society fraud investigation team, the police or another legitimate organisation such as a telephone or internet provider. They attempt to obtain financial information which often includes credit/debit card details (including PIN), bank account details and personal information such as full name, date of birth or address. This information is then used by the fraudster to gain access to their victim’s finances.
Fraudsters can also deceive the victim into transferring money themselves from their own bank account to one which is accessible to the fraudster. A variation on this scam involves the victim being persuaded to withdraw money from a branch or ATM to pay the fraudster.
Do not be afraid to end cold calls
The fraud prevention body said people should not be afraid to just put the phone down on someone if they are unsure about handing over details. It warned consumers not to assume a caller is genuine, just because they hold some information about them. Criminals may already have got hold of some basic information about a potential victim, such as a name, address and account details to try to make the call appear legitimate.