Organised crime group sentenced after £360,000 fraud

The scheme was a large scale mule and vishing fraud that operated between December 2013 and April 2014
The scheme was a large scale mule and vishing fraud that operated between December 2013 and April 2014

Thirteen people have been sentenced for their part in an organised crime group that stole almost £360,000 from victims.

The principal subject of the group, Mark Miller, 28, was sentenced to 28 months in prison.

Miller, along with 12 others, targeted bank account holders and illicitly gained information over the phone that allowed them to transfer money into other bank accounts under the group’s control.

A police investigation led by Police Scotland’s Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit discovered the fraud and money laundering scheme which duped victims out of £359,473.

The organised crime group was made up of 13 people who carried out their activity in the Clydebank, Drumchapel and Yoker areas of Glasgow with victims identified in a variety of locations, including Aberdeenshire and Northern Ireland.

The scheme was a large scale mule and vishing fraud that operated between December 2013 and April 2014. The criminals recruited people – known as mules – to use their own bank account as the transfer account to hold the victim’s money and subsequently provide the criminal group access to the funds.

Vishing is a fraud tactic where people are tricked into revealing financial or personal information over the phone. The caller claimed to be from a position of authority within the bank such as the Fraud Department and informed them that they had been a victim of fraud, telling them if they had any concerns over the legitimacy of the call, they could phone the number on the back of their bank card. However the criminal left the line open so when the victims called back, it automatically went through to the same caller.

Fifteen people were originally charged with involvement in the scheme and on Thursday 7 March 2019, Robert Coleman was the final person to be sentenced.

Detective Inspector Steven Trim, of the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorism Unit, said: “The conclusion of this case marks what has been a successful investigation.

“The group were well-organised and set up in a way that involved various roles, including the use of mule account holders.

“We are particularly pleased about securing convictions for senior members of the crime group. I would also like to acknowledge and thank the Police Service of Northern Ireland who did a lot of work progressing our enquiries with victims based there.

“This type of crime can have a huge impact on victims and it can cause stress and embarrassment as well as the obvious monetary loss.

“Vulnerable people are often targeted to be part of the scheme and this can seem appealing, particularly due to the financial incentive offered.

“Banks will not cold call you and ask for personal or account information. If you do receive a phone call from someone claiming to be from your bank, call them back from a different phone. This should stop them from holding an open line on your phone.

“If you have been a victim of a similar crime or have been approached to be involved in a similar scheme, please contact Police Scotland on 101 or speak to a local officer.”