Men jailed for student phishing scam that stole £1.5 million

Created bogus loans website

Two men have been jailed for their part in a cleverly-targeted phishing scam that managed to steal a total of £1.5 million ($2.3 million) from UK students by impersonating the official loans company.

Timed to coincide with the award of loans last August, the men - Britons Damola Clement Olatunji and Amos Njoroge Mwangi - were found to have separately sent out large numbers of emails asking students to confirm their bank account details via a bogus website.

Armed with the logins from those who responded, the men stole sums ranging from £1,000 to £5,000 from victims who probably ran to several thousand in number.

After being alerted to the attack by the Student Loans Company, in December the men were among several individuals picked up by police.

Police found that Mwangi's PC contained a number of programs that allowed him to design and control phishing emails and their associated websites.

Olatunji's computer showed evidence of having collected student bank logins from at least 1,300 victims, linking him to £304,000 of criminal proceeds and a further £162,000 of attempted fraud. He also appeared to have a sideline operation that netted him £75,000 of theft from the Halifax bank.

At Southwark Crown Court in London on 6 July, Olatunji was jailed for six and half years with Mwangi being given three years and three months at an earlier hearing in June. Police are still not sure if or to what extent the men were working together.

"Mwangi and Olatunji were determined fraudsters who systematically targeted British students in order to steal large amounts of money," said Detective Inspector Jason Tunn of the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PceU).

"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," he said.

Although phishing scams are extremely common, attacks targetting specific groups such as students are still relatively rare. This made the case notable, as did its astonishing success.

In the last case with a UK student theme, the student was the offender rather than the victim; 22 year old Paul McLoughlin was found guilty in May 2011 of stealing gaming logins while resident at Salford University.

Join the CSO newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

Editor's Recommendations

Solution Centres

Stories by John E Dunn

Latest Videos

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Will your data protection strategy be enough when disaster strikes?

    Speakers: - Paul O’Connor, Engagement leader - Performance Audit Group, Victorian Auditor-General’s Office (VAGO) - Nigel Phair, Managing Director, Centre for Internet Safety - Joshua Stenhouse, Technical Evangelist, Zerto - Anthony Caruana, CSO MC & Moderator

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: The Human Factor - Your people are your biggest security weakness

    ​Speakers: David Lacey, Researcher and former CISO Royal Mail David Turner - Global Risk Management Expert Mark Guntrip - Group Manager, Email Protection, Proofpoint

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Current ransomware defences are failing – but machine learning can drive a more proactive solution

    Speakers • Ty Miller, Director, Threat Intelligence • Mark Gregory, Leader, Network Engineering Research Group, RMIT • Jeff Lanza, Retired FBI Agent (USA) • Andy Solterbeck, VP Asia Pacific, Cylance • David Braue, CSO MC/Moderator What to expect: ​Hear from industry experts on the local and global ransomware threat landscape. Explore a new approach to dealing with ransomware using machine-learning techniques and by thinking about the problem in a fundamentally different way. Apply techniques for gathering insight into ransomware behaviour and find out what elements must go into a truly effective ransomware defence. Get a first-hand look at how ransomware actually works in practice, and how machine-learning techniques can pick up on its activities long before your employees do.

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: Get real about metadata to avoid a false sense of security

    Speakers: • Anthony Caruana – CSO MC and moderator • Ian Farquhar, Worldwide Virtual Security Team Lead, Gigamon • John Lindsay, Former CTO, iiNet • Skeeve Stevens, Futurist, Future Sumo • David Vaile - Vice chair of APF, Co-Convenor of the Cyberspace Law And Policy Community, UNSW Law Faculty This webinar covers: - A 101 on metadata - what it is and how to use it - Insight into a typical attack, what happens and what we would find when looking into the metadata - How to collect metadata, use this to detect attacks and get greater insight into how you can use this to protect your organisation - Learn how much raw data and metadata to retain and how long for - Get a reality check on how you're using your metadata and if this is enough to secure your organisation

    Play Video

  • 150x50

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them

    CSO Webinar: How banking trojans work and how you can stop them Featuring: • John Baird, Director of Global Technology Production, Deutsche Bank • Samantha Macleod, GM Cyber Security, ME Bank • Sherrod DeGrippo, Director of Emerging Threats, Proofpoint (USA)

    Play Video

More videos

Blog Posts

Market Place