Scammers who infiltrated BT customer accounts as part of a “sophisticated” £358,000 fraud have been jailed.
The gang targeted in excess of 2,000 people, predominantly in the Portsmouth area, between May 2014 and July 2016.
They used the details to set-up Paypal accounts to order expensive items which were then delivered to addresses in the city controlled by the group.
Seven people were jailed for between 16 and 44 months for their part in the fraud.
An eighth defendant was fined £1,000.
Portsmouth Crown Court heard the gang spent the money on Rolex watches, high-value jewellery, TVs and designer clothes.
Police carried out raids after being tipped off by BT about the data breach, and group leader Festus Emosivwe, 36, put a USB data stick in his mouth and chewed on it when police arrested him, making it impossible to recover any data.
Prosecutor Michael Forster said the source of all the data leaks was not known, but there was evidence of phishing emails and officers found textbooks on computer security at Emosivwe’s home.
He described it as “a sophisticated conspiracy” that “persisted for two years”.
The barrister said the gang diverted customers’ email addresses and phones to accounts controlled by the group, meaning victims were “left in the dark” until their money had been fraudulently spent.
He said although Paypal had lost the most money from the fraud, BT customers had endured “distress and inconvenience”.
‘Horror and fury’
Sentencing the group, Judge Timothy Mousley QC said: “The impact on your victims cannot be underestimated. Many had seriously heightened levels of anxiety, stress and fear after finding out their accounts had been hacked.
“Some expressed horror and fury at being scammed by you.
“Many were retired people who feared they’d be unable to get by financially. Each of you is responsible for inflicting that misery upon them.”
The gang, who pleaded guilty to all charges, were sentenced as follows:
- Festus Emosivwe, 36, of Newcome Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 44 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
- Chloe Maylott, 27, of Purbrook Way, Havant, was jailed for 16 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
- Charles Onwu, 31, of Wells Close, Portsmouth, was jailed for 43 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation
- Victor Ngo, 30, of Lowestoft Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 43 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
- Pinelopi Chatzikonstantinou, 30, formerly of Highlands Road, Southsea, was fined £1,000 and a £100 victim surcharge for conspiracy to convert criminal property.
- Adel Qadir, 35, of Woofferton Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 29 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
- Molade Fasuyi, 37, of Methuen Road, Southsea, was jailed for two years for committing fraud by false representation.
- Olukayode Adepoju, 40, of London Road, Portsmouth, was jailed for 19 months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.