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An American who masterminded the UK part of a multi-million pound ID theft scam was yesterday jailed for six years. Douglas Havard, 24, was sentenced on Monday at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money. His accomplice, Lee Elwood, 25, of Glasgow, was jailed for four years after pleading guilty to the same offences in June 2004.

The court heard the duo were integral to a phishing scam that netted an estimated £6.5m. The duo operated the UK end of an international operation that tricked consumers into handing over their banking credentials to bogus websites. The pair used credit cards obtained under false names, money raided from compromised bank accounts and the illicit purchase and sale of goods online to finance a lavish lifestyle.

Their criminality was exposed during a National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) investigation into eastern European phishing fraudsters. Police reckon Havard and Elwood stole over £750,000 during the 10-month period of the investigation but estimate they could have raked in as much as £6.5m over two years.

Havard confessed to receiving data dumps of compromised account details from criminal associates in Russia. This information was used to pay for goods online, sold in auctions by criminal affiliates in the UK. Havard and Elwood and their UK allies would take a cut before forwarding the balance back to Russia. Police found forged travellers' cheques, financial documents relating to 10 bank compromised bank accounts and cash when they raided Havard's flat. Intelligence recovered led to a raid on Elwood's home where police recovered forged documentation and bank documents as well as a cache of credit card counterfeiting equipment.

Police said Havard and Elwood were active on illegal "carding websites" such as carderplanet and shadowcrew, The Scotsman reports. The paper adds that Havard faces charges counterfeiting and armed robbery in Texas. ®

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