Students Fall Victim To £2m Phone Scam

By Zoe Fripp.

A gang of seven have been sentenced to six years for conducting what police have described as a “long-running and sophisticated fraud.”

An investigation began when two students from the University of Sheffield reported fraudulent activity taking place from their bank account. Subsequently, many students affected by this scam have been left in a large amount of debt.

“The motive for this crime was pure greed,” Det Insp Louise Shea, from the Metropolitan Police’s Cyber Crime Unit, said in response to the case.

Students would be recruited socially through university clubs, such as the rugby team in Leeds and Sheffield, to take part in what they believed was a way to make money, and were offered £50 to take out a new phone contract in their name.

When the gang received the handsets they would then cancel the contract and send the phone companies back a fake phone. The originals would then be unblocked and sold abroad.

[Credit: John Karakatsanis on Flickr]

However, many of the contracts were not actually cancelled, which meant that the student whose details had been used to take out the contract were left owing large sums of money to phone companies.

“This case should act as a warning for any student who is offered a cash incentive to hand over their personal details,” Det Insp Louise Shea told the BCC.

It was uncovered that some of the largest phone networks were conned out of an estimated £2 million, such as EE, Vodafone, 02, T-Mobile, Three and Virgin.

Jonathan Boorman, 32, from Bath has been named by police as the leader of the gang. He was referred to as ‘big boss’ on a spreadsheet that police had seized. He was banned for ten years from being the director of any company, and plead guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud, resulting in a six-year and four-month sentence.

Alex Karonias, 32, from East Sheen, Richmond-upon-Thames, was described as the ‘second in command’ and pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and was also banned for ten years from being the director of a company. Additionally, he was given a five-year sentence.

Other members of the gang include Laura Kane, 28; Charlie Shelton, 31; Robert Morrison, 31; Thomas Maynard, 26; and Reiss Rawson, 31; who all plead guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit fraud and were given individual sentences and punishments based on the severity of their role in the scam.

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