NCA notches up first phishing conviction

The National Crime Agency (NCA) Cyber Crime Unit has notched up its first conviction of a phishing offender after an investigation

The new National Crime Agency (NCA) has notched up its first conviction of a phishing offender, following an investigation by the agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit (NCCU).

Olukunle Babatunde, 27, of Croydon, south London, was sentenced to five and a half years in prison by the Inner London Crown Court, after pleading guilty to several offences, including conspiracy to defraud UK banks, financial institutions and their customers of up to £751,000.

In conjunction with Tamar Abdulhamid, aged 25, Babatunde also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to remove and conceal criminal property to the value of £64,535.

They were arrested in connection with an ongoing operation, investigating the distribution of stolen financial data obtained by means of organised international crime.

Rogue phishing emails were designed to lure innocent victims into giving up their bank login details, which have a black market value and can be resold or used directly to facilitate fraudulent transactions.

The NCA’s NCCU has the legal authority to lead the UK’s response to cyber crime, coordinating partners to respond to cyber criminal activities.

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Using increased operational resources and enhanced intelligence, the NCCU is designed to deliver a complete response to cyber criminals, working in partnership with police forces and organisations in the UK and abroad.

Commenting on the conviction, NCCU head Andy Archibald said the NCA will continue to share information and intelligence on serious and organised cyber crime.

Aaron Higbee, CTO of phishing awareness training firm PhishMe, said the case highlights the continued prevalence of data-entry phishing tactics that elicit login information.

“Although this is one of the oldest phishing tactics, the amount that was stolen shows how effective this tactic continues to be,” he said.

Higbee said the same type of phishing emails was used by the Syrian Electronic Army to gain access to the websites and social media accounts of a number of high-profile media outlets.

“While it is encouraging that the National Cyber Crime Unit is cracking down on cyber criminals, enterprises can’t afford to wait for law enforcement and need to be proactive in training users to avoid falling for phishing emails,” he said.

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