The man responsible for running the multi-million-pound fraud website iSpoof has been jailed for 13 years and 4 months.
Tejay Fletcher, 35 (13.12.87), of Western Gateway, London, was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court on Thursday, 18 May.
He previously pleaded guilty to making or supplying articles for use in fraud, encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence, possessing criminal property and transferring criminal property.
New Scotland Yard’s Cyber Crime Unit led an international operation that took the network down from the top; dismantling the website, targeting the fraudsters who paid to use its services, and today putting the man running the site behind bars.
The Met’s Cyber and Economic Crime Units co-coordinated the mammoth investigation with City of London Police, the National Crime Agency, Europol, Eurojust, Dutch authorities and the FBI.
iSpoof enabled criminals to appear as if they were calling from banks, tax offices and other official bodies as they attempted to defraud victims who lost millions. Confirmed losses to UK victims is £43 million with estimated global losses in excess of £100 million.
At one stage, almost 20 people every minute of the day were being contacted by scammers hiding behind false identities using the site.
National Crime Agency Deputy Director Paul Foster, Head of the National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Fraud can have a devastating impact on victims, so tackling it is a priority for the NCA and our policing partners.
“Key to our response is targeting the online platforms that supply offenders with the tools and services they use to commit cyber-enabled fraud.
“We will continue to target criminal infrastructure, and pursue the administrators and users. The protection of victims and their data online is paramount and we are constantly improving our capabilities across law enforcement to help achieve this.”
Users of iSpoof, who had to pay to use its services, posed as representatives of banks including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds and Halifax, pretending to warn of suspicious activity on their accounts.
Scammers would encourage the unsuspecting members of the public to disclose security information such as one-time passcodes to obtain their money.
The total reported loss from those targeted via iSpoof is £48 million in the UK alone, with average loss believed to be £10,000. Because fraud is vastly under reported, the full amount is believed to be much higher.
In the 12 months until August 2022 around 10 million fraudulent calls were made globally via iSpoof, with around 3.5 million of those made in the UK.
Of those, 350,000 calls lasted more than one minute and were made to 200,000 individuals.
Following our appeals to the public, 340 additional victims have come forward and are now assisting our investigation. It is thought that there are many thousands of victims.
Before it was shut down in November 2022, iSpoof was constantly growing. 700 new users were registering with the site every week and it was earning on average £80,000 per week. At the point of closure it had 59,000 registered users.
The website offered a number of packages for users who would buy, in Bitcoin, the number of minutes they wanted to use the software for to make calls.
iSpoof made just over £3 million with Fletcher profiting around £1.7-£1.9 million from running and enabling fraudsters to ruin victim’s lives. He lived an extravagant lifestyle, owning a Range Rover worth £60,000 and a Lamborghini Urus worth £230,000. He regularly went on holiday, with trips to Jamaica, Malta and Turkey in 2022 alone.
Fletcher spent time marketing iSpoof on the Telegram Channel, The iSpoof Club. Telegram is an encrypted messaging platform, similar to WhatsApp. Fletcher set up the channel to promote iSpoof and would update users and promote updates and developments to the website.
After he was arrested on 6 November 2022, officers searched his home address more than 30 mobile phones and a quantity of SIM cards were found. They also found a Rolex watch, an Audemars Piguet watch and a money counter.
As part of the continued enquiry, 169 individuals have now been arrested on suspicion of using iSpoof in the UK. They all remain under police investigation.
Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: “We are proud to have taken down criminals at the top of this fraudulent network, heartless people who were determined to facilitate fraud on an industrial scale, ruining the lives of many victims who were targeted.
“Closing down iSpoof has been the UK’s biggest ever fraud operation was a collective effort.
“The investigative excellence of the detectives who led this case is a great example of expertise at the Met bringing justice for victims, huge thanks must also go to the officer in the case DC Ed Sehmer.”
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance said: “I am proud of my team who have led a long and complex international investigation that has resulted in Fletcher having no choice but to plead guilty.
“By setting up iSpoof Fletcher created a gateway for thousands of criminals to defraud innocent victims out of millions of pounds. Meanwhile he was living a luxury lifestyle benefitting from the profits.
“Those who commit fraud have no regard for the life-changing impact it has on innocent victims who have lost hundreds of thousands of pounds. Fletcher should be thoroughly ashamed.
“Our wider investigations into the suspected users of iSpoof continue. I’d like to thank our partners who have assisted the investigation.
“It is vital that anyone who has been a victim of fraud reports what has happened to Action Fraud. Remember, never give out your one-time password and if something doesn’t feel right then stop and take 5.”
Commander Nik Adams from the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud, said: “This case is an excellent example of how coordinated and collaborative activity across a number of law enforcement agencies can result in a significant court result for victims of fraud and cybercrime. This type of crime will not be tolerated and those who are involved in fraud and cybercrime will be found and brought to justice.
“We would always encourage members of the public to follow the Take Five to Stop Fraud advice and if you think you have been a victim of fraud, to contact your bank immediately and report to Action Fraud at actionfraud.police.uk.”