Jail for gang who attempted £229m bank robbery

Behind bars
A gang who attempted the cybercrime of the century by trying to steal £229 million from a bank have been sentenced to jail.

Belgian hackers Jan van Osselaer, 32, and Gilles Poelvoorde, 35, were sneaked into the London offices of the Sumitomo Mitsui bank by security supervisor Kevin O’Donoghue, who sabotaged CCTV systems and erased surveillance footage to cover their tracks. On one occasion, when quizzed by a co-worker as to why the men were present, O’Donoghue said they were there for a game of late night poker.

Once inside, Van Osselaer and Poelvoorde used USB memory sticks to install keylogging and screen-grabbing spyware onto the bank’s terminals, in order to steal the usernames and passwords of banking staff.

Meanwhile, 61-year-old Hugh Rodley, of Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, and Soho sex shop owner David Nash, had been busy setting up a network of bank accounts in Spain, Singapore, Turkey, Dubai, Israel, Hong Kong, Dubai and Liechtenstein for the gang to electronically transfer money into.

The criminal scheme came crashing down, however, when the robbers made a mistake in the SWIFT money transfer system.

Another conspirator, 74-year-old Bernard Davies, killed himself three days before the start of the trial, leaving a letter to investigators providing details of the plot. In a suicide letter Davies wrote: “When a partner has done the dirty on you, you put him in the frame,” and passed a final message to investigators: “Thank you for the way you have treated me, I am very tired, I have lost the will to fight. Good luck.”

Rodley was convicted of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to transfer criminal property. Nash, 47, of Durrington, West Sussex, was convicted of conspiring to transfer criminal property, and was jailed for three years.

Hackers Van Osselaer and Poelvoorde received prison sentences of 3 and a half years and four years respectively, while O’Donohue was jailed for four years and four months for what could have been the cybercrime of the century.

Fascinatingly, according to media reports, the authorities are now investigating evidence of similar frauds perpetrated by the gang.