Thursday, June 11, 2009

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Rock and rolled: thieves busted for bizarre online music racket

Alexandra Topping
June 12, 2009

AN INTERNATIONAL fraud in which a gang allegedly made thousands of dollars downloading its own songs from online music stores with stolen credit cards has been cracked by London police and the FBI.

The gang is alleged to have made several songs which they gave to an online US company, which uploaded them to be sold on iTunes and Amazon.

Over five months they bought the songs thousands of times, spending about $US750,000 on 1500 stolen US and British credit cards, according to the Met.

The criminal network also allegedly reaped the royalties from the tracks, pulling in an estimated $US300,000, paid by the two sites, which were unaware of the fraud. Seven men and three women are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.

Scotland Yard said the arrests were the result of a parallel investigation with the FBI that began in February.

"It was established that between September 2008 and January 2009 a British criminal network provided music via an online US company who uploaded the tracks to Apple iTunes and for sale," it said. "This is a significant case for the e-crime unit, which was set up 12 months ago.

"The unit has been set up to provide a point of expertise and a national and international response to online crime. The nature of online crime means the unit are actively developing cross-border partnerships both with other international crime agencies and businesses."

Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson, of the e-crime unit, said: "This has been a complex investigation to establish what we believe to be an international conspiracy to defraud Apple and Amazon. It shows the success that can be achieved through our close working relationship with the FBI.

"We are now making it more risky for criminals who seek to exploit the internet and commit e-crime across national borders. We are working hard through partnership with industry and law enforcement to combat e-crime and are committed to pursuing those responsible."

Guardian News & Media

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