Ex-Wigan Athletic footballer and cyber gang jailed after netting £130,000 in global fraud consipiracy

An ex-Wigan Athletic footballer has been jailed for three years after teaming up with a gang of cyber-fraudsters and stealing more than £130,000 from bank accounts across the globe.

Gabriel Edwards, 24, who had played for the Lactics’ second team until a knee injury stalled his career, joined a gang of villains who targeted bank users from ‘Minnesota to New South Wales’.

Stolen details were used to hack into hundreds of bank accounts online and by phone before money was taken via electronic transfer.

The gang took £130,000 and tried to get a further £45,000 between August 2010 and February 2012.

They were caught after a man of 72, returned from a visit abroad to learn £47,365 had been stolen from his Halifax account between November 17 2011 and November 25 2011.

Police discovered the money had been deposited into different accounts without his knowledge using different IP addresses.

Officers later arrested Edwards at his flat in Salford, Greater Manchester during a series of raids on homes across the county.

At Manchester Crown Court, Edwards pleaded with a judge for leniency claiming he had been offered pre-season training with Macclesfield Town and wanted to ‘continue his career in the lower leagues’.

But he was jailed after being found guilty of conspiracy to steal, concealing criminal property and possessing an article for use in fraud at trial.

Judge Michael Leeming told Edwards, who left his native Ghana on a football scholarship after being spotted on TV: “You are a talented footballer.

“Had fate been kinder the path you followed may have been very different.”

Two accomplices were also jailed whilst a woman was given a suspended prison sentence and ordered to complete community service.

William Baidoo, 32, of Beswick, Manchester, who was said to be the organiser of the fraud, was jailed for 40 months after admitting conspiracy to steal, concealing criminal property, handling, and possessing articles for use in fraud.

Baidoo’s fellow ringleader, Mudasir Adesina 27, from Whalley Range, Manchester was found guilty of conspiracy to steal and concealing criminal property at trial, and jailed for three-and-a-half years.

Adesina’s wife Laila Adesina, 22, admitted the same charges and was sentenced to 16 months jail, suspended for two years, plus 250 hours unpaid work and made subject of a 12-month supervision order.

A fifth defendant will be sentenced separately on Friday July 11.

Various documents, mobile phones and laptops were seized by police during the raids.

These were examined and it was found that those involved in the conspiracy had acquired personal identification and account details for hundreds of people across the world.

This allowed them to transfer money from bank accounts held by customers of major high street banks and credit card companies, into accounts run by the conspiracy.

Earlier, the court heard victims of the scam included 158 Visa customers, 74 Halifax customers and eleven Bank of Scotland customers.

Michael Lavery, defending, said of Edwards: “After a serious knee injury he lost a year of his career and his contract. In that low point in his life, he perhaps became influenced by others.”

But after the case Det Con Jane McHale from the Greater Manchester Police Volume Fraud Unit said: “All those involved thought they could take money from the victim’s bank account and get away with it.

“Our investigations found that these people had accessed hundreds of accounts and time after time, those attempts had successfully resulted in funds being taken from bank accounts and placed into the hands of this conspiracy.

“It is clear from the analysis of telephone and computer records that the conspirators in this case were extremely busy over many months, involving themselves in sophisticated and highly lucrative conspiracies to steal and to conceal their ill-gotten gains.

“Thankfully, our investigation pointed the finger at all of them and we were able to secure evidence to bring them to justice.”

Story via Cavendish Press

Image via GMP, with thanks

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