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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 May 2007, 15:18 GMT 16:18 UK
Fraud gang jailed for 17m plot
Roman Zykin relaxing with a cigar
Roman Zykin: Enjoyed a lavish lifestyle
A gang responsible for plotting Britain's biggest ever credit card fraud have been jailed.

Led by Russian illegal immigrant Roman Zykin, from Paddington, central London, they stood to gain 17m.

They were uncovered by chance when a Pc stopped Zykin at Victoria Station and found he had details of stolen credit cards, Southwark Crown Court heard.

Zykin, 38, was jailed for five and a half years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to steal.

Along with the rest of the gang, Zykin also admitted conspiracy to transfer criminal property and having a false instrument with intent.

Carefully planned

Judge Gregory Stone said: "This was substantial organised crime. It was carefully planned and was executed in a sophisticated way."

The court heard how the extensive plot began unravelling on September 29, 2005, when a routine British Transport Police anti-terrorist patrol stopped Zykin who was found with 40 mobile phone top-up cards.

They were later examined and found to contain thousands of stolen American credit card numbers.

Malgorzata Zykin by a swimming
Malgorzata Zykin by a pool during one of the gang's holidays

An 18-month investigation took officers and banking industry officials on a money trail to Poland, Estonia, Russia, the United States and Virgin Islands.

A total of 32,000 credit card numbers were eventually found stored on computers.

Luxury lifestyles

Evidence also emerged of their lavish lifestyle - one gang member owned a 900,000 home in Hertfordshire, while others splashed out on a Spanish villa, a converted east London church and other properties in the city.

They also enjoyed first class travel and five-star holidays in Spain, Russia and Poland, shopped exclusively at Selfridges and squandered fortunes on designer clothes and shoes.

The other members of the gang were Polish national Dariusz Zyla, 30, of Haringey Gardens, Wood Green, north London (four years); 31-year-old fellow countryman Krysztof Rogaliski, another "central player", who lived in Claude Road, Plaistow, east London (three years); and important Estonian "link man" Hannes Pajasalu, 34, of no fixed address (two years).

Zykin's wife Malgorzata Zykin, 41, who also admitted taking part in the scam, was jailed for six months at an earlier hearing.

They have all been recommended for deportation upon their release.

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