A man who was jailed for stealing financial data on tens of thousands of people through a sustained campaign of phishing attacks has been forced to pay back every single penny he purloined from his crimes, totalling over £1m worth of Bitcoin.
Grant West was banged up in May for 10 years and eight months following a two-year investigation by the Metropolitan Police. He had pleaded guilty at Southwark Crown Court in December to ten offences, including two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of possession of criminal property.
At the same court, he was made the subject of a confiscation order under the Proceeds of Crime Act to recoup the Bitcoin haul.
It has now emerged that West accrued a small fortune, operating from a caravan in Sheerness, Kent and used a laptop belonging to his girlfriend. It is claimed he was the head of a network targeting London-based businesses.
Under the guise of more than 100 companies – including Nectar, Groupon, Ladbrokes, Coral, T Mobile, Argos and even the British Cardiovascular Society – he tricked victims into handing over personal details which he then sold on the dark web and converted the cash into Bitcoin.
In one scam he duped 165,000 people and tried to steal their details by pretending to be Just Eat. Despite no financial information being obtained, the firm estimated the attack still cost it nearly £200,000.
In total, West made 47,000 sales, which also included selling hacker guides. He also sold cannabis online and police found half a kilo of the drug and £25,000 in cash when they raided a storage facility which he had rented.
Police also uncovered an SD card with 78 million individual usernames and passwords and 63,000 credit and debit card details.
The head of the Met’s cyber crime unit detective chief inspector Kirsty Goldsmith said: “[We are] committed to ensuring that individuals who are committing criminality on the dark web are identified, prosecuted and their criminal assets are seized.
“I wish to thank our partners within the force and in both public and private industry who have all assisted with this investigation, which was incredibly complex and lengthy.”
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