Six men were sentenced for a total of 15 and a half years in jail at Wood Green Crown Court, London on Friday, after pleading guilty to using the Internet to defraud UK banks to the tune of US$589,500.
The six men, aged between 21 and 39, obtained false identities over the Internet and used them to open bank accounts, arrange overdrafts and apply for credit cards.
According to the U.K.'s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU), which was responsible for investigating the crimes and arresting the men, the gang "lived the high life" and had bought properties in the UK and Nigeria as well as jewellery and sports cars. Police confirm that a Porsche, along with jewellery and some cash, has been seized.
Lloyds TSB was the gang's biggest victim, losing US$530,500, while the Halifax and the Co-operative Bank lost a combined total of US$50,500 over a period of two years.
Detective Chief Superintendent Len Hynds, head of the NHTCU, said the case underlines the need for people to do everything they can to protect that most precious commodity -- their identity. "The Internet offers huge legitimate benefits for modern society; however, with it comes powerful opportunities for those seeking to abuse the benefits for criminal gain," he said in a statement.
ZDNet U.K.'s Munir Kotadia reported from London.