Police Bust Up Multi-Million Dollar Identity Theft Ring
A fake passport sold on the now-defunct site mynewpass.com.
British police dismantled an organized crime ring that made millions of pounds selling fake identities and are now searching for as many as 11,000 people who used the fraudsters' services.
With the help of six accomplices throughout the United Kingdom, Jason Place of Kent, England, sold "authentic documents for the purpose of committing fraud," London's Metropolitan Police said. Those documents, sold on a website called Confidential Access, included fake passports, wage slips, credit histories, postal addresses, driver's licenses, bank statements and utility bills.
Place, 42, was sentenced June 8 to 6 years and 9 months in prison for conspiracy to defraud. Five others were handed sentences, from six months up to 27 months, for participating in the fraud ring.
"This was a sophisticated operation which has netted millions of pounds over the years," Detective Inspector Tim Dowdeswell said. "These cybercriminals not only provided the tools to commit fraud, they instructed their clients in how to use them to make the maximum amount of money, whilst ruining real people's credit histories into the bargain."
Place and accomplice Barry Sales ran the fraud operation "from the comfort of their Spanish villas" in the city of Alicante in southern Spain, the police said. From there, with the help of the members spread throughout the U.K., Place and Sales sold fraud packages on Confidential Access; the top product, called the Platinum Profile, went for 5,500 pounds (about $8,540) and provided the buyer with the necessary documents, as well as detailed instructions, on how to commit fraud. Other packages ran for 2,000 pounds (about $3,100).
Clients were required to hand over half their profits of their first successful fraud to Confidential Access.
Clients received instruction through Web forums, some of which they accessed through a subscription service. Police said within the forums, nautical terms were used to distinguish varying levels of trust and privilege. "All new paying members would begin as deckhands, and as they gained trust would climb the rank ladder from Skylarker to Shore Patrol, up to the Ship's Surgeon who was in charge."
Police said they are now searching for the 11,000 clients who used the site.
Sales was not prosecuted because he has a terminal illness, police said.