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Teen cybercrime forum boss jailed

Five years for Ghostmarket mastermind

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A UK teenager who ran a prolific cybercrime forum from home has been jailed for five years.

Nick Webber, 19, maintained the Ghostmarket.net market which boasted 8,000 memberships and facilitated a range of crimes including the sale of stolen credit card and personal details.

Police recovered the details of thousands of credit cards from Webber's machines when he was busted in October 2009 after trying to use a counterfeit credit card to pay for a hotel stay. Confronted by mounds of evidence Webber, from Southsea, Hampshire, pleaded guilty to fraud.

Southwark Crown Court heard that members of the gang may have defrauded banks and individuals anywhere between £12m and £20m, depending on whose estimates you believe. In court, Ghostmarket.net was described as a supermarket for cybercrooks, providing guides on how to commit cybercrimes as well as a marketplace for stolen wares.

The personal details of around 65,000 victims were traded through the site.

Even after his release on bail, Webber continued to engage in cybercrime, an aggravating feature that led to a far tougher sentence than might otherwise have been the case.

Three other convicted suspects were convicted in the same case. Gary Kelly, 21, from Manchester, was also jailed for five years after he also pleaded guilty to the same fraud charges as Webber along with conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud and conspiracy to cause unauthorised modification to computers.

Ryan Thomas, 18, from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, who acted as the site admin for Ghostmarket.net, was jailed for four years. Shakira Ricardo, 21, from Swansea, was imprisoned for 18 months after she pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud and handling criminal property, the BBC reports.

Webber and Thomas jumped bail soon after their initial arrests in December 2009 before they were captured in Majorca and returned to the UK, The Guardian adds. ®

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