Damola Olatunji, sentenced on Friday at Southwark Crown Court, sent emails that included links to a bogus student loans website. Another man, Amos Mwangi, was jailed for three years in June over the same scam, although the Metropolitan Police have said there is no evidence the two were actually working together.
The victims were led to believe they needed to update the details on their accounts and, when they clicked through to do so, the phishers gained unauthorised access to their bank accounts. The amount they extracted from those accounts ranged from £1,000 to £5,000.
“Mwangi and Olatunji were determined fraudsters who systematically targeted British students in order to steal large amounts of money,” detective inspector Jason Tunn of the Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) said in a statement. “Despite the complexity of the investigation, PCeU investigators working closely with the Student Loan Company and other partners were able to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”
The arrests followed raids in London and Manchester last December. According to the Met, Mwangi “had numerous computer programs which enabled him to build phishing emails and register fake websites”, while Olatunji had more than 1,300 student loan account login details.
Olatunji was directly linked to fraud worth £304,000 and attempted fraud worth £162,000, while investigators have also linked him to a separate £75,000 fraud that targeted customers of the Halifax bank.
He was sentenced on three counts: conspiracy to defraud the Student Loan Company (three years, six months), conspiracy to defraud Halifax (two years), and money laundering (one year). All the sentences will run concurrently.
Four other people who were arrested during the investigation are still on bail.