Page last updated at 18:06 GMT, Friday, 26 February 2010

Organiser of Darkmarket fraud website jailed

Renukanth Subramaniam
Bank details and card information was on sale for just a few pounds

A man who created a website trading in stolen financial information linked to tens of millions of pounds in losses has been jailed for nearly five years.

Renukanth Subramaniam, 33, founded Darkmarket, a "Facebook for fraudsters" where criminals could buy and sell credit card details and bank log-ins.

The site was shut down in 2008 after an FBI agent infiltrated it, leading to more than 60 arrests worldwide.

Subramaniam admitted conspiracy to defraud at Blackfriars Crown Court.

He also pleaded guilty to mortgage fraud.

'One-stop-shop'

Judge John Hillen said: "Criminals should learn from this case that, even in cyberspace, there is no hiding place."

Prosecutor Sandip Patel said the case was "extraordinary" because it was founded and promoted over the internet.

"They were able to utilise modern technology in a way which gave them the capability to commit theft on an unprecedented scale... with no more than a dishonest will, a laptop, a mouse and internet access," he said.

"In short, it was a Facebook for fraudsters."

John McHugh
McHugh created fake credit cards that were sold through the site

Suspects linked to the website were arrested in the UK, US, Canada, Germany, France, Turkey and Russia.

It even operated a secure payment system, allowing users to "review" the criminal services on offer - creating a "one-stop-shop for criminals the world over".

Subramaniam, originally from Sri Lanka, was given British citizenship in 2002 and ran Darkmarket from an internet cafe with the username "Jilsi".

He owned three houses but lived nomadically - staying with friends mainly in Wembley, north London and Ilford in Essex.

He was sentenced to 46 months for conspiracy to defraud and 10 months for five counts of mortgage fraud, the terms to run consecutively.

Also sentenced was Darkmarket user John McHugh, 66, of Doncaster, South Yorkshire, who had the sign in "Devilman" and created fake credit cards that were sold through the site.

He was jailed for two years for conspiracy to defraud.

Investigations in the UK were led by the Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca).

Deputy director Sharon Lemon said: "Subramaniam went to great trouble to hide his activity.

"He seems to have thought that carrying data around on memory sticks and using internet cafes would somehow protect him from scrutiny. He was wrong."



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