Cyber gang led by ‘Acid House King’ convicted of £1.25million fraud at Swiss Cottage Barclays
PUBLISHED: 11:54 14 March 2014 | UPDATED: 15:58 14 March 2014
Members of a cyber gang who plundered more than £1.25million from a Swiss Cottage bank are facing jail after being found guilty of fraud.
The organised crime group – led by a former rave promoter dubbed the “Acid House King” – used a “trojan horse” device to hijack computers at a branch of Barclays in Finchley Road and siphon off cash.
They also stole credit and bank card details from around one million intercepted letters and used them to splash out on Rolex watches and designer jewellery worth more than £1million.
The gang was led by Tony Colston-Hayter, who gained notoriety for organising Acid House raves in the Home Counties which sparked controversy in 1989.
The son of a university lecturer and solicitor, Colston-Hayter, has already pleaded guilty to masterminding the fraud while 10 others also admitted their part in the scam.
Yesterday at Southwark Crown Court, two more men, Lanre Mullins-Abudu, 25, and Steven Hannah, 52, were found guilty of their roles in the audacious fraud.
A third defendant who was accused of being the “inside man” during the trial, Barclays employee Duane Jean-Jacques, 25, of Belsize Road, South Hampstead, was cleared of conspiracy to steal and concealing criminal property.
Opening the case, prosecutor Simon Farrell QC told the court: “This case concerns a sophisticated and organised attack on the banking system in this country which took place in 2012 and 2013.
“It involved the use of computer technology to steal from banks and the improper use of thousands of credit cards which had been stolen.”
Jurors had heard that the gang used a device known as a keyboard video mouse (KVM) switch to access and control Barclays and Santander bank accounts remotely on three occasions.
They walked into a branch of Barclays in Finchley Road, Swiss Cottage, on April 4 last year, allowing the group to access the bank’s IT system.
The gang used the trojan-horse style KVM device to make 128 transfers worth £1,252,490 to a network of mule accounts set up to launder the stolen cash.
Their victims included London Metropolitan University and the University of Portsmouth.
In the following months the gang struck again, stealing £90,000 from another branch of Barclays in Lewisham and installing another KVM device at a Santander in Surrey Quays.
As well as the cyber attacks, the gang used around 500 stolen or intercepted bank and credit cards to go on expensive shopping sprees.
They got the details by using a sophisticated device which “spoofed” genuine bank numbers, phoned customers and tricked them into handing over their personal details and pin numbers.
They used their ill-gotten gains to buy Rolex watches worth up to £30,000 each, expensive jewellery and state-of-the-art iPads and Apple Mac computers, police said.
Lanre Mullins-Abudu, 25, of Weimar Street, Putney, was convicted of five charges including conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to steal.
Steven Hannah, 52, of Bell Street, Marylebone, was found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud.
Colston-Hayter, 48, of Seymour Street, Marble Arch, pleaded guilty to six fraud and theft charges on January 13.
Ten others have admitted a litany of charges connected with the plot.
Det Ch Insp Jason Tunn, from the Metropolitan Police’s cyber crime unit, said: “Today’s convictions are the culmination of a prolonged and highly complex investigation by Metropolitan Police Service detectives into an organised crime group that sought to target London’s banks and credit card companies in order to steal millions of pounds.
“The police investigation has been successful thanks to the fantastic support provided to us by industry partners and today’s convictions are testament to what can be achieved through joint working.
“The Metropolitan Police is committed to stripping criminals of their assets so that crime does not pay.”