We are welcoming the sentencing of a man to fours and 11 months in prison for Conspiracy to Defraud; and Breach of Bail in relation to a million pound credit card fraud.
Philip Lam, 31, of no fixed abode, was due to appear for sentencing in March 2021 but failed to appear and was sentenced in his absence. His co-accused, Steven Noone, 38, of Childwall Priory Road, Childwall was sentenced to four years, nine months in prison.
Enquiries revealed that Lam had absconded to Spain and he was arrested last month in Marbella, and working with the National Crime Agency (NCA), completed the extradition process.
Yesterday (Wednesday 14 December), Lam was collected from Gatwick Airport by Merseyside Police and he appeared for sentencing today (Thursday 15 December) at Liverpool Crown Court. Lam was sentenced to four years and eleven months in prison, including two additional months for Breach of Bail.
Lam and Noone were actively trading in and using stolen credit cards in order to make purchases on behalf of third parties.
Telephones and computers seized from their home addresses revealed that they each had a successful and profitable scam operating which involved them purchasing goods or services for third parties who contacted them on ‘WhatsApp’, ‘ICQ’ or social media. They used stolen details from more than 1,000 cards to book flights, hotels and goods.
Lam’s preferred payment method was via ‘PaySafe’ which is a method of moving money through a system of vouchers which can be purchased legitimately from shops local to the customers. If ‘PaySafe’ was not available, LAM would accept bank transfer. In order to conceal such payments he also utilised gambling accounts to launder the proceeds and a ‘mule’ bank account.
Lam and his family flew on a number of international flights themselves having made bookings for journeys and accommodation with compromised credit cards, as well as laundering money through gambling accounts and converting some of the cash into Bitcoin.
Lam also traded card data and used a social media account to advertise discounted goods and holidays that he had purchased using the compromised cards.
The offending was initially reported by Jet2.com and Jet2holidays who had seen more than 20 flights booked online without the knowledge of the legitimate card holder between May and September 2016, totalling more than £21,000 worth of services. They raised their suspicions with authorities, and following a lengthy investigation the men were identified after extensive trawls phone and internet data by investigators.
When Lam and Noone were arrested and computers seized during warrants on 4 July 2017, Noone’s was found to contain the details for more than 1,100 cards from the UK and USA, and evidence he traded the card details online was also found.
Speaking after the sentencing of Lam, Detective Constable Emma Singleton said: “In total the fraud was valued at over £1,000,000, and involved the complex use of various payment and money laundering methods. They stole credit card details, and spent money they simply had no right to spend. As well as taking the cash of the legitimate owners of those cards, they also took money from people who bought holidays from them in good faith.
“Many of those people then found that payments had ultimately been rejected and hotels demanded payment they believed they had already made or goods they believed they had purchased were never delivered.
“The trail of victims they left in their wake was significant, from individuals to flight and holiday operators, so it is very satisfying to see that justice has been secured for all those affected.
“They committed the offences in order to fund their lavish lifestyles, enjoying expensive holidays literally at the expense of other people.
“It is very clear that they had no regard for the impact of their actions on both the businesses they were defrauding and the people whose credit card details they stole.
“Since the offences were reported, Merseyside Police has helped secure bank refunds for many of the victims, but the businesses were not reimbursed and in some instances the small businesses involved faced bankruptcy.
“While Noone began his prison sentence, Lam thought he could evade justice. He was wrong. Our enquiries led us to Marbella and, with the assistance of the NCA, he was arrested and brought back to face the courts. We use all available powers, working with law enforcement agencies internationally, and will not stop looking for wanted people, wherever they may be.”
Speaking at the time of the original case, Steve Heapy, CEO of Jet2.com and Jet2holidays said: “These sentencings are very welcome news in the fight against fraud, and they send out a strong message to anyone who thinks they can get away with this type of deception. I would like to pay tribute to our fraud department who work tirelessly to stamp this activity out, and who work closely with police forces across the UK to ensure that appropriate action is taken against fraudsters. I would also like to thank the Merseyside Police for their collaborative approach to working with us, which helped secure these convictions.”
Action Fraud is the UK’s national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre. If you believe you have been a victim of fraud you can contact them on 0300 123 2040 or go to www.actionfraud.police.uk
Advice and information about fraud is also available via https://www.merseyside.police.uk/advice/advice-and-information/fa/fraud/