Highbury con-man helped steal £850,000 from Lloyds Bank customers

LLoyds Bank, PA: Andrew Matthews

LLoyds Bank, PA: Andrew Matthews - Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images

A con-man who helped swindle Lloyds Bank customers out of £850,000 has been jailed for two years.

Volodymyr Kurach, of Stadium Mews, Highbury, sent virus carrying e-mails posing as the bank to invade customers accounts.

Kurach, 32, and his accomplice Gediminas Simkus then transferred the money through several fraudulent bank accounts set up using fake identification documents before others involved in the conspiracy withdrew the stolen funds.

Kurach, who moved to England from the Ukraine in 2005, was involved in the scam from November 2012 to January 2013 and was arrested in December 2013 along with Simkus 32 when raids at their homes turned up £80,000 in cash and a live hand grenade, as well as computers, smart phones, designer jewellery and a Range Rover.

The pair were caught when customers complained that e-mails they thought related to their accounts contained “malware” viruses, and the bank alerted police.

Between them the pair were responsible for just over £230,000 of the overall heist,

Kurach, who worked as a labourer and a car salesman, was sentenced to 28 months in prison at Southwark Crown Court on December 23 for his part in the conspiracy. Simkus, a 32-year-old father of one, of Bowes Road, Enfield, was given a 32-month sentence.

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Sentencing the pair, Judge Peter Testar said that while Kurach and Simkus had a fairly simple role in the conspiracy the overall operation was a complex and large scale one: “These defendants played a relatively small part in a larger fraud,” he said.

“What is characteristic of this case is that with so much fraud, the money eventually comes out in the end in cash.

“But so as to disguise the criminal activity and make it harder to detect who is involved, there is a layer so that the money passes through a number of accounts before it comes out in cash.

“They participated in a very sophisticated fraud, a rather pernicious fraud involving the use of the internet.”

A 32-year-old woman who was arrested in connection with the investigation remains on bail pending further enquiries in relation to the conspiracy.