Indian citizen jailed for 5 years in UK for payment diversion fraud
Indian citizen Satish Kotinadhuni is among five people convicted and jailed for offences relating to a £10 million payment diversion fraud, which includes stealing log-in details of individuals and companies, and spoofing them to pay into ‘mule’ bank accounts.
Scotland Yard said on Friday that Kotinadhuni, 44, was arrested at his home address in east London on June 6, 2019 and charged with conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy to convert criminal property.
He was sentenced at the Southwark Crown Court to five years for conspiracy to commit fraud by false representation and six years for conspiracy to convert criminal property. The other four members of the gang were three Nigerians and one German citizen.
‘Mule’ bank accounts are those controlled by the fraudsters instead of their legitimate holders. The accounts were sourced from dishonest people who were prepared to ‘sell on’ their own bank accounts for a fee whilst knowing that they would be used for fraud.
Kotinadhuni was described as a ‘mule herder’, who would procure hundreds of other people’s bank accounts for use in the fraud.
The police said officials of the economic crime unit identified 235 separate frauds, committed from 2014 to 2019, amounting to £9,218,522.76.
The main method employed was the use of malware to steal the log-in credentials of email accounts belonging to businesses and private individuals worldwide. This would allow the fraudsters to monitor the chosen email accounts for high value financial transactions.
Having identified a legitimate financial transaction between two parties, email conversations were intercepted and spoof emails sent so that victims were duped into paying funds into the UK-based ‘mule’ bank accounts.
Another method involved conning victims out of thousands of pounds by selling investments in ‘binary currency trading schemes’ that did not exist. Victims ranged from high profile individuals and organisations to those who thought that they were paying their solicitor for a property deal.
Detective constable Chris Collins said: “This has been a long trial due to the defendants’ refusal to accept their guilt despite overwhelming evidence. A common feature in this case was the use of mule bank accounts”.
“I advise anyone conducting financial business by email to verify the bank account they are sending their money to by contacting the intended recipient by means other than email”.