Money laundering gang jailed for £1.2 million IT fraud

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Five people who helped launder the proceeds of a £1.2 million computer scam have been jailed.

The fraud targeted elderly and vulnerable people, forcing them to pay thousands of euros each to fix non-existent IT problems.

Between May 2015 and November 2019, the gang transferred £1,289,837 to two brothers in India, who posed as representatives of HP, Microsoft Norton and Epson to defraud their victims.

Amanda Grigg, 66, from Truro, Gena Harrington, 39, from Birmingham, Bindu Devasia, 49, from Kent, Nicholas Alcide, 40, from Birmingham, and Jose Kuriakose, 50, from Kent, were sentenced at Leeds Crown Court on Monday.

The court heard that victims were told the fictitious problems could be resolved for a fee and were persuaded to allow remote access to their computers.

One man paid a total of £4,427.96 to people he thought worked for HP to fix an alleged problem with his computer.

The money was then filtered through a series of companies set up by the gang before being transferred to India.

An investigation into money laundering was led by the National Trading Standards eCrime Team, based at City of York Council and North Yorkshire Council.

Lord Michael Bichard, chairman of the National Trading Standards, said the gang has “no qualms about enriching themselves off the backs of vulnerable and elderly victims”.

“I hope that today’s sentences will serve as a stark reminder to all money launderers that they are at risk of prosecution – no matter how well-coordinated their operations may appear,” he added.

The investigation was also supported by officers from West Midlands, Staffordshire and Wiltshire police forces.

Amy Hogan-Burney, general manager of cybersecurity policy and protection at Microsoft, said: “Microsoft welcomes today’s verdict and remains committed to working with governments and across industry to combat tech support fraud and hold perpetrators accountable .”

Grigg was jailed for three years, Kuriakose was jailed for four years and two months and Harrington was jailed for two years and six months. All three were disqualified as company directors for six years.

Devasia was sentenced to eight months in prison, suspended for two years, and was also disqualified as a company director for six years and ordered to carry out 150 hours of unpaid work.

Alcide received a prison sentence of fifteen months, of which two years were conditional. He was also banned from the position of company director for two years and had to perform 150 hours of unpaid work.

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