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Last Updated: Wednesday, 29 June, 2005, 07:12 GMT 08:12 UK
Phishing pair jailed for ID fraud
Man at computer
The scam involved the use of stolen bank details
A UK-based American citizen has been jailed for six years after stealing up to 6.5m through identity fraud.

Douglas Havard, from Dallas, Texas, made fake credit cards with stolen bank details as part of a global syndicate.

The scam relied on phishing - by which online account holders are induced to give away their personal details.

Havard admitted conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money. His co-accused Lee Elwood was jailed for four years for the same offences.

Over 700,000 is known to have been stolen by Leeds-based Havard, but the real figure is thought to be far more.

Havard, whose arrest followed an investigation involving the US Secret Service and the FBI, was sentenced at Leeds Crown Court.

Elwood, 25, of Royal Exchange Court, Glasgow, pleaded guilty to the same offences on 4 June.

Identity theft

The case was part of an investigation by the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) into Eastern European crime syndicates that target UK banks and their customers.

The court heard how Havard, from Holbeck, near Leeds, was supplied with stolen bank details by Russian computer hackers.

He then encoded the details onto the magnetic strips of the counterfeit cards which were used at cashpoints in Britain and the US and to buy and sell items online.

After his arrest in June 2003, police searched Havard's flats in Leeds and Manchester and found false passports and driving licenses, blank cashcards and the equipment used to make the counterfeits.

We hope that these sentences deliver a tough message to anybody either thinking about or actually using other people's identities to steal
Det Supt Mick Deats

During sentencing, Judge Wolstenholme said that without the interception of the authorities he had no doubt the fraud would have continued on an enormous scale.

Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, Deputy Head of the NHTCU, said: "Internet fraud is on the increase and we work with our colleagues in law enforcement across the globe to stamp down on those criminals using other people's identities to steal.

"We hope that these sentences deliver a tough message to anybody either thinking about or actually using other people's identities to steal."

Havard is wanted by the US police for separate offences and extradition proceedings are under way.

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