June 28, 2005 1:36 PM PDT

Phishing fraud lands two men behind bars

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Two men have been jailed for conspiracy to defraud and launder money in an international phishing operation that may have netted up to 6.5 million pounds over two-years, authorities said.

Douglas Harvard, 24, a U.S. citizen who lives in Leeds, England, was sentenced to six years in prison, and Lee Elwood, 25, of Glasgow was given four years behind bars. According to the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), the two stole at least 750,000 pounds in one 10-month period as they forwarded money on to unnamed groups in Russia.

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Mick Deat, deputy head of the NHTCU, said in a statement: "We are particularly grateful for the assistance provided by our counterparts within the U.S. Secret Service and the FBI for their close co-operation in connection with this investigation. We hope that these sentences deliver a tough message to anybody either thinking about or actually using other people's identities to steal."

Harvard is said to have received credit card information and passwords from Russians. The NHTCU said the men then used fake identities and bank cards to remove money from accounts via ATM machines.

After initially contacting each other over the Internet, Harvard and Elwood swapped stolen information and counterfeit documents such as credit cards, driving licenses, passports and birth certificates.

NHTCU officers ,who arrested Harvard in his flat in Leeds last year, said they found several fake bank accounts, forged traveler's checks and equipment to make false identities.

Harvard is also wanted in the U.S. for counterfeiting and armed robbery.

Dan Ilett of Silicon.com reported from London.


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