You’ll often hear many stories of unfortunate victims of fraud, most of whom tend to target the elderly and vulnerable. It’s easy to find stories of these poor people losing thousands, if not millions of pounds combined, all because they were tricked by fraudsters.
In this case, however, these particular fraudsters had been targeting students. Seven people involved carried out a £2 million mobile phone fraud scheme, involving the deceitful use of hundreds of UK students’ personal details.
Those involved were Jonathan Boorman, Laura Kane, Charlie Shelton, Robert Morrison, Thomas Maynard and Reiss Rawson. They were all sentenced at Southwark Crown Court last Friday.
Back in 2014, two students who attended the University of Sheffield contacted the police, reporting that their bank accounts were being used fraudulently. This prompted an investigation from The National Mobile Phone Crime Unit, who uncovered a long-running fraud carried out in a systematic style against mobile phone companies. These included some of the UK’s biggest providers, such as EE, Vodafone, O2, T-Mobile, Three and Virgin. So, how did this work, exactly?
Students were paid £50 for a phone contract to be taken out in their name. The fraudsters told them they were not doing anything dishonest, and that they needed their names and details in order to obtain legitimate unclaimed upgrades, or to take advantage of legal loopholes.
Once the mobile phones were sent out to students’ addresses, they requested them to post them on to a rented office in Fulham.
Then, the fraudsters would use two methods of getting money from the new handsets (mostly iPhone5s) and SIM cards. The first, and most used method would be “cancelling” the contract and sending back, cheap, bogus handsets. The original handsets would then be unlocked and sent abroad, where they could be used with a foreign SIM card, all under the student’s name.
The other method the gang used was to sell the SIM card to a text marketing company, and we all know how bogus and annoying those text marketing companies are, don’t we? You know the one’s where you receive continuous unwanted texts…
Jonathan Boorman was the ringleader of this scam and he was described as the “Big Boss”, alongside his sidekick, Alex Karonias. The fraud was carried out over a year, from August 2013 to August 2014 and ran via three companies – JBi Systems Ltd, JBi Capital Ltd and Netlink Services UK Ltd.
Officers were able to seize a significant amount of paperwork and electronic data when they searched JBi’s Fullham office in August 2014. This gave them the information they needed on how the fraud worked. Detectives then took statements from more than 300 students, all of whom gave similar stories of how they had been paid £50 per handset after handing over their personal details. Many of the students had been recruited through social networks, including university groups like the rugby teams at Leeds and Sheffield.
Once the details had been obtained, students were not informed of what happened to the original handset and SIM card, which was registered in their name.
Jonathan Boorman, 32, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to commit fraud and was sentenced to six years and four months’ imprisonment. He’s also been banned for ten years from being the director of any company.
The rest of them were given similar sentences, including 160 hours of unpaid work and community service for some.
Sadly, this scam has resulted in some students left in serious debt, which affected their credit ratings greatly. The total loss for the mobile phone networks was £2, 149, 344.
Always make sure to keep your details safe at all times, and remember that if something seems too good to be true, then it most likely is, so why not just go with a ‘Pay as You Go‘ phone arrangement in future?
<Story by Emily Clark>
Featured Photo Credit: Mashable