The mastermind behind a gang of fraudsters who conned eBay users out of almost GBP 200,000 has been jailed for four years.
David Levi, 29, led a six-man gang who tricked users of the online auction site into revealing their account details – known as ‘phishing’ – and then assumed their identity. Levi then squandered the money on expensive cars and holidays after duping more than 160 people over the course of a year.
His conviction follows the jailing last week of three Romanians who swindled more than GBP 250,000 out of eBay customers. This latest case is thought to be the UK’s first conviction for phishing fraud.
Levi, from Lytham, Lancashire, recruited his younger brother Guy and a computer expert, Daniel Lett, to trick eBay traders into giving away their passwords and account details.
Emails claimed to be from eBay
The group set up a network of computers which sent emails claiming to be from the auction website. Those who replied thought they were tapping in their password to the secure eBay website, but were giving their details to the fraudsters.
The gang would then access the accounts of vendors with a reliable, recommended sales history and assume their cyber identity. They offered valuable goods such as Rolex watches and lap-top computers for sale – supposedly from the true account holder -and disappear with the money.
Guy Levi, of St Anne’s, Lancashire, was jailed for 21 months for conspiracy to defraud while Lett, of Lytham, Lancashire, was given a two-year term for a similar charge. The three other gang members were each jailed for six months for money laundering.
Following the case a spokesman for eBay said: ‘We believe eBay is one of the worst places to commit fraud, due to the open and transparent nature of the listings and the traceability of the transactions which take place.
‘We have worked closely with the Blackpool police on this investigation and as a result the offenders were convicted. This kind of case shows that crime does not pay on eBay.’
Our advice is to use eBay’s official payment system, PayPal, and check the seller is a verified PayPal seller.
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