Romanian jailed for sophisticated cyber phishing operation

A 32 year old Romanian man was handed a three year sentence at Laganside Crown Court today for a number of fraud offences, connected to a sophisticated cyber phishing operation.

Daniel Marincu was arrested in Belfast in June 2016 following a joint operation between detectives from the PSNI’s Cyber Crime Centre and Human Trafficking Unit and he pleaded guilty in September 2017 to a number of Fraud offences.

Following his arrest, he has spent 15 months in custody. The Judge imposed a sentence of three years with 18 months to be spent in prison with the remainder of his sentence served on licence. Marincu’s barrister indicated to the Court that he had been served with Deportation papers and that Marincu was willing to return to Romania

Detective Superintendent Richard Campbell, from PSNI’s Serious Crime Branch which includes Cyber Crime, said: “On 28th June 2016 officers from our Human Trafficking Unit carried out a search at an apartment in Belfast in relation to suspected Human Trafficking and Controlling Prostitution. During the search of the apartment, various devices and computer equipment belonging to Daniel Marincu were seized as police were suspicious of various applications running.

“Detectives from the PSNI Cyber Crime Centre worked with colleagues in the National Crime Agency’s National Cyber Crime Unit to examine his laptop, USB device and mobile phone which revealed a large volume of material believed to be linked to the creation of various phishing emails, spoof websites and the harvesting of compromised credit card and personal data. The material identified included:

- Lists of email addresses that could be potentially targeted with spoof emails (In excess of 20 million email addresses)

- Files that could be used to create spoof emails associated with companies such as PayPal, Apple, and a various financial institutions

- Evidence of mass mailers designed to send emails to large numbers of recipients at a time. One script may have been used on at least one occasion to send 68,000 emails.

- Fake websites which appear linked to those contained in spoofed emails. 133 webpages linked to 42 different online entities such as PayPal, HMRC and various banks were identified.

- Personal information relating to some 862 people was recovered which corresponded with accounts linked to a number of financial institutions

- Email accounts identified as being used by the spoofed webpages to collect information provided by victims.

“Through working in partnership with other law enforcement partners to put Daniel Marincu behind bars we are in no doubt that we have prevented further people from becoming a victim of his sophisticated frauds.”

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