A CREWE man will spend the next year in prison after being found guilty of being part of a gang of four who sold fake cameras online.
Lithuanian Aleksas Bagdonavicius, 52, of Glover Street, Crewe, was sentenced at Chester Crown Court on Thursday, January 9.
Bagdonavicius, who works at a tomato plant in Middlewich, along with Rita Jablonskaite, 37 from Stoke, Spartakas Grachauskas, 27, from Warrington and Lilija Gincman, 53, from Warrington, were arrested between December 2012 and March 2013 following an investigation by Cheshire Police′s Financial Investigation Unit into fake camera websites.
The fake websites were cloned from legitimate camera websites under the names of ‘Olimpic Cameras′, ‘Technologies Shop′ and ‘Lions Tech′.
The fake websites offered cameras and camera equipment at very good prices along with various deals enticing members of the public to purchase cameras and equipment online.
However, when members of the public tried to make a purchase using their credit and debit cards, the website flagged up an e-mail asking them to send cash directly to individual bank accounts.
This led to money being sent directly and no goods delivered – with victims losing thousands of pounds.
Victims from across the UK and further a field – including the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Australia – lost money and reported the incidents to Action Fraud − the UK′s national fraud and internet crime reporting centre.
All four gang members were found guilty of money laundering in December 2013 following a trial at Chester Crown Court but the case was then adjourned for sentencing.
Chester Crown Court heard how the fraud saw more than £32,000 stolen, with £7,775 laundered through a personal bank account in Bagdonavicius’ name.
He claimed to know nothing about the fraud during trial, claiming that someone else had used his account without him knowing.
Judge Roger Dutton called his evidence ‘ridiculous’.
Has three previous convicitons in this country for five offences, which included driving offences and public order.
Ms Milena Bennett, defending, said Bagdonavicius was not an ‘organiser or prime mover’ in the fraud.
Judge Roger Duttong replied: “I don’t think he was as stupid as he made out to the jury.
“Everything he told the jury as with the preface he is an uneducated man.
“He must be uneducated, but that was cute.”
DC Ian Wetherall, of Cheshire Police′s Financial Investigation Unit, said: “This is a satisfying result as cyber crime is an escalating crime trend and this case will hopefully send a message to people who commit this type of crime that they will not get away with it and will be punished for their actions.
“Hopefully, and most importantly, it highlights that people need to be very careful when buying online that the purchase is safe and to take reasonable steps in checking that companies are legitimate before sending any money directly.”