Bitcoins seized and IT worker sentenced for computer fraud offences
Surrey Police has become one of the first Forces in the country to seize the cyber currency Bitcoins following the sentencing of an IT worker for computer fraud offences.
Gabriele Pearson was sentenced to 15 months in prison at Guildford Crown Court on Wednesday 28th March 2018, following an investigation by Surrey and Sussex’s Joint Cyber Crime Unit.
He had earlier pleaded and been found guilty of concealing criminal property, fraud by false representation and unauthorised access to computer to facilitate the commission of an offence.
The 23-year-old, of Hencroft Street South, Slough in Berkshire committed the offence in December 2014 while working for an IT company which was an external provider for a firm based in Egham.
Officers were able to trace his offending which revealed he had been searching the internet for advice on Bitcoins.
The Bitcoins were seized under Section 47 of the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002. Confiscation under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 will be sought by the Surrey Police Economic Crime Unit.
Detective Constable Paul Constable who led the investigation said:
“Gabriele Pearson committed his crimes by repeatedly remote logging onto a series of computers owned by his IT company and their client, forming a complex chain of logins. He obtained company PayPal account information and laundered the money via a virtual world called Second Life, which uses virtual currency Linden Dollars where he then converted those into Bitcoin. At the time of arrest, he had obtained 9.9 BTC (Bitcoin) in total. He primed the account to accept larger sums of cash but his offending was noticed while he was waiting for confirmation from PayPal that he could increase the transfer limit to £50,000. He was able to request this as he had accessed further private documents that meant he could bypass PayPal’s identification requirements.”
Recorder Forster QC commended both DC Paul Constable and counsel, Richard Elliot of Temple Gardens for translating a complex investigation into a coherent format for all to understand.
Head of Surrey and Sussex’s Joint Cyber Crime Unit Detective Inspector Rob Walker said:
“We are proud to be among one the first Forces in the country to take this step and reunite a victim with what is rightfully theirs. Hopefully this will be the first of many cases of this kind.
“Criminals are increasingly moving online and threatening both businesses and those who use the internet at home, which is why it is so important that you take what are simple steps to make sure your personal details are not compromised.
“In the same way that you wouldn’t leave your front door open for a burglar you have to keep your details safe on the web too. You can do this by making sure you have strong passwords, don’t give out too much detail about your personal life and keep your security software up to date.”
For more information about how to combat cyber crime visit: www.surrey.police.uk/keeping-safe/protecting-you-and-your-family/staying-safe-online