Southsea Teen Jailed For Web Fraud
A teenager from Southsea who masterminded a "massive'' multimillion-pound internet crime site has been jailed for five years.
Nick Webber, 19, ran GhostMarket.net, a site where criminals sold credit card details and which offered online tutorials in a range of credit cards scams.
The former public schoolboy was jailed at London's Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud charges.
Describing the website, Judge John Price said:
"This was a criminal enterprise offering sophisticated advice on how to hack into computers, cause them to malfunction and retrieve personal information from computers - and how to do it on massive scale.''
Ghostmarket.Net bought and sold credit card details and bank account information potentially worth millions of pounds.
At its peak the site had more than 8,000 users, the court heard.
The information was used to defraud banks and shops around the world.
The details of thousands of credit cards were found on Webber's computer when he was arrested in 2009.
Police believe the details amassed represented a potential loss or more than £12 million.
Webber and his online gang splurged profits from the scam on luxury goods such as plasma televisions, jewellery and cameras.
When Webber realised that the police were on to his cyber gang, he posted a message on the website which read:
"To be a legend, you've got to be a ghost.
"Watch your back and **** the police.''
The gang even carried on with their criminal activities after they were put on bail.
Webber previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud, encouraging or assisting offenders, and conspiracy to commit fraud.
He was jailed for a total of five years.
Gary Kelly, 21, from Manchester, pleaded guilty to the same charges plus conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud, and conspiracy to cause unauthorised modification to computers.
He was sentenced to a total of five years in jail.
Website moderator Ryan Thomas, 18, from Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire, pleaded guilty to the same charges as Webber.
He was sentenced to a total of four years in prison.
Shakira Ricardo, 21, from Swansea, admitted conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and acquiring criminal property. She was jailed for a total of 18 months.
Judge Price told the gang:
"I'm extremely conscious of the youth of you all.
"Were you four or five years older the sentence would be much longer.''
Webber recruited the gang leaders to the website.
Judge Price acknowledged that he was a "very clever young man, very good at computers.''
The judge also warned of the increasing problem of online credit card fraud which he said was "growing at a disturbing rate.''