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Phishers jailed for lifting over £300k from student loan applicants

Met: Fraudsters' email scam pulled in bank details

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A UK-based phishing fraudster who netted an estimated £300K by targeting students was jailed for three-and-a-half years on Friday, London's Metropolitan Police confirmed.

Damola Olatunji, 37, tricked victims into submitting their banking details to bogus websites in response to dodgy emails supposedly related to student loans. Prospective marks were falsely told they needed to "update their banking details" in order to receive funds. In reality the submitted account details were used to loot funds, with amounts ranging from £1,000 to £5,000 slurped from compromised accounts. Olatunji managed to obtain the login details of 1,300 student accounts using the ruse, according to police.

The 37-year-old was convicted of fraud worth £304,000 and attempted fraud of £162,000 related to the student loan phishing scam. He was also found guilty of a separate £75,000 fraud against accounts held at the Halifax bank. The conspiracy to defraud the student loan company earned him three-and-a-half years behind bars. He was also sentenced to two years over the Halifax scam and one year for money laundering, with sentences to run concurrently to the main charge.

Separately, Amos Mwangi, 26, was recently jailed for three years and three months over the same type of student loan phishing scam. There's no evidence the duo were working together but they were both arrested as part of the same operation, involved raids at addresses in London and Manchester, last December. Computers seized from Mwangi revealed he was running numerous computer programs which enabled him to build phishing emails and register fake websites.

Four other suspects were arrested as part of the same raids last December.

Police estimate the group were collectively involved in attempts to steal an estimated total of more than £1.5m from the Student Loan Company.

"Mwangi and Olatunji were determined fraudsters who systematically targeted British students in order to steal large amounts of money," said DI Jason Tunn of the Met's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) in a statement. "Despite the complexity of the investigation, PCeU investigators working closely with the Student Loan Company and other partners were able to identify those responsible and bring them to justice." ®

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