A man who built a bespoke device to help him defraud hundreds of people has been jailed.
Mr Tony Muldowney-Colston (also known as Tony Colston-Hayter), 53 (12.12.65) of Clifton Street, Brighton was charged with nine counts of possession of an article for use in fraud and two counts of making or supplying an article for use in fraud.
On Monday, 15 October, Muldowney–Colston pleaded guilty to all 11 charges at Southwark Crown Court and was sentenced to 20 months imprisonment at the same court on Wednesday, 12 December.
Officers from the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit launched a proactive operation in January to investigate the activities of Muldowney-Colston, after identifying him as a key suspect in the commission of cybercrime across the UK.
On Wednesday, 13 June a search warrant was conducted at an address linked to him and he was arrested.
Officers seized a hard drive containing details of passports and identity cards, 32 credit cards, and a spreadsheet containing names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers pertaining to a private members’ club in central London.
Whilst searching the property officers also discovered evidence of how Muldowney-Colston committed fraud using a home-built device that he used to con people into thinking he was their banking provider.
Muldowney–Colston told officers that he created the device with the intention of gaining access to genuine customer accounts and retrieving the funds available within each account. Examination by the Met’s Digital Communications and Cyber Laboratory confirmed these capabilities.
Officers seized more than 100 exhibits from the address that was searched.
It is estimated Muldowney–Colston gained access to funds in excess of £500,000 from the accounts he accessed.
Detective Inspector Philip McInerney, from the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit (MPCCU), said: “The scam carried out by Muldowney–Colston affected hundreds of people across the UK, and had the potential to affect many more. He is an audacious criminal who only recently was released from prison for carrying out very similar offences.
“He shows no concern for the welfare of any individual or organisation, and has made it clear he will use a range of methods to achieve significant financial gain for himself.
“I am very grateful to our partners in the banking industry who have worked closely with us on this and a number of investigations.
“This should send a clear message to anyone considering committing crimes of this nature that we have the tools and methods to identify you and bring you to justice..
“Tips on how to create a strong password are available on our website - alternatively, you can get advice from Action Fraud, GetSafeOnline or Cyber Aware.”