An organised crime gang behind a sophisticated fraud using hacked BT and PayPal accounts to purchase luxury goods worth £358,000 has been jailed for more than 18 years.
The scammers targeted more than 2,000 people across the country, focusing on the Hampshire and Portsmouth area.
Prosecutor Michael Forster said they operated by accessing the accounts using stolen personal details and diverting receipt and delivery messages so the victims were ‘kept in the dark’.
Members of the gang then used the plundered cash to splash out on luxury goods including Rolex and Breitling watches, Versace clothes, expensive jewellery, furniture and televisions.
Mr Forster explained: ‘This was a sophisticated conspiracy to commit fraud which persisted for about two years. The personal details of a large number of members of the public, many who were BT or PayPal customers, were obtained by the fraudsters.
‘The customers’ finances were used to fraudulently order high value goods such as watches, jewellery, televisions as well as more mundane items such as furniture or food.’
In a statement read to the court, one victim said he is now ‘fearful’ of making financial transactions, adding: ‘I remain angry because no-one has the right to have taken the money I have worked hard for.’
Festus Emosivwe, 36, of Portsmouth, who was at the heart of the conspiracy, was jailed for three years and eight months for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation.
Jailed for the same offence were Chloe Maylott, 27, of Havant, who was sentenced to 16 months and Charles Onwu, 31, of Portsmouth, who was sentenced to three years and seven months.
Also jailed for their part in the conspiracy were Adel Qadir, 35, of Portsmouth, who was sentenced to two years and five months, Molade Fasuyi, 37, of Southsea, who was jailed for two years and Olukayode Adepoju, 40, of Portsmouth, who was sentenced to 19 months.
Victor Ngo, 30, of Portsmouth, was jailed for three years and seven months for the same charge and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
Pinelopi Chatzikonstantinou, 30, of Southsea, was fined £1,000 and a £100 victim surcharge for conspiracy to convert criminal property.
The court heard that Emosivwe was at the centre of the conspiracy and was responsible for obtaining the personal details, placing the orders and arranging deliveries.
Judge Timothy Mousley QC told them: ‘Whilst the financial loss falls to be met by the financial institutions, the impact on those who had their details stolen cannot be under-estimated.
‘Many of them speak of their heightened levels of anxiety, stress and fear as a result of finding out their accounts had been hacked.’