Cy­ber crim­i­nals guilty of £3m Wonga scam

In­ter­net users had iden­ti­ties stolen by gang mem­bers

Harefield Gazette - - NEWS - By Steve Bax steve.bax@trin­i­tymir­

A HAYES woman was part of a gang of cy­ber crim­i­nals who used the per­sonal de­tails of un­sus­pect­ing in­ter­net users to ap­ply for loans from the web­site Wonga.

Michelle De­ola, 23, of Lang­dale Av­enue, Hayes, was given a com­mu­nity or­der with 100 hours un­paid work for her part in the £3m scam, which in­volved steal­ing the iden­ti­ties of thou­sands of in­no­cent mem­bers of the pub­lic.

The gang used stolen de­tails to se­cure pay­day loans from Wonga, leav­ing their vic­tims li­able to the one per cent a day in­ter­est pay­ments.

The money was then laun­dered through hun­dreds of bank ac­counts by the gang, who made some 19,000 ap­pli­ca­tions al­ways us­ing the same pass­word – ‘Ben­gali90’.

Kelvin Oku­sanya, 32, of Lock­hart Av­enue, Mil­ton Keynes, who mas­ter­minded the scam, was jailed for six years this week.

The Old Bai­ley heard he per­son­ally made 82 false ap­pli­ca­tions in­volv­ing 30 vic­tims.

De­ola was among six gang mem­bers to be con­victed of laun­der­ing the pro­ceeds of the cash through bank ac­counts un­der their con­trol.

They in­cluded Olu Fa­so­ranti, 32, of The Hol­lands, Feltham, who was jailed for three years; Sophia Pusey-Car­roll, 46, of By­ron Court, By­ron Road, Har­row, who was jailed for 21 months; and Monika So­larz, 28, of Aud­ley Road, Hen­don, who was jailed for 18 months.

Omo­tola Welling­ton, 31, of Burn­den Close, Brent­ford, was sen­tenced to two years im­pris­on­ment, sus­pended for two years; and Sherene Bas­coe, 21, of Mar­low Court, Pin­ner Road, Har­row, was sen­tenced to nine months sus­pended for two years.

The judge, Mr Recorder Sells QC, said: “The names and de­tails of wholly in­no­cent mem­bers of the pub­lic were used to make fraud­u­lent loan ap­pli­ca­tions on a mas­sive scale. Some were even con­tacted by Wonga for the loans they had not ap­plied for and knew noth­ing about.

“Such of­fences are cor­ro­sive of the trust which peo­ple hold in the fi­nan­cial ser­vices sec­tor. They are in­creas­ingly preva­lent, they are easy to com­mit and hard to de­tect.”

The judge told Oku­sanya he was sat­is­fied the gang had in­tended to make many mil­l­lions of pounds from their crimes.

Pros­e­cu­tor Richard Hearn­den told the court: “The crim­i­nals net­ted more than £3m by tar­get­ing one of Bri­tain’s most con­tro­ver­sial in­sti­tu­tions, the pay day len­der Wonga.

“Wonga paid out on thou­sands of pay­day loans. Each of th­ese loans was only for a few hun­dred pounds, but added to­gether th­ese loans amounted to mil­lions.

“The fraud­sters that were op­er­at­ing this scam prob­a­bly bought ready­made lists of po­ten­tial vic­tims and their per­sonal fi­nan­cial data. How pre­cisely this data was se­cured is not known.”

The trial fo­cused on 30 vic­tims, but this was ‘the small­est tip of a very sub­stan­tial ice­berg’ ac­cord­ing to Mr Hearn­den.

n FRAUD­STERS: (Clock­wise from above left) Michelle De­ola, Sherene Bas­coe, Kelvin Oku­sanya and Monika So­larz

n GUILTY: Olu Fa­so­ranti (left) and Sophia Pusey-Car­roll

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