Teenage internet 'mastermind' is jailed

A teenager who masterminded a multi-million pound internet crime site has been jailed for five years.

Guernsey-born Nick Webber, of Hampshire, ran, a site where credit card details were sold and advice on running scams was available.

Webber, 19, was jailed at London's Southwark Crown Court after pleading guilty to fraud charges.

In passing sentence Judge John Price described the website as a "massive" operation.

He said: "This was a criminal enterprise offering sophisticated advice on how to hack into computers, cause them to malfunction and retrieve personal information from computers - and how to do it on massive scale."

The details of thousands of credit cards were found on Webber's computer when he was arrested in October 2009 after he used a "compromised credit card" in a London hotel.

The information was used to defraud banks and shops around the world.

The court heard that at its peak the site had more than 8,000 users and it was estimated the details amassed represented a potential loss for credit card companies of more than £12m.

Webber led the gang behind the website, who splurged profits from the scam on luxury goods such as plasma televisions, jewellery and cameras.

During the court case Webber pleaded guilty to conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud, encouraging or assisting offenders, and conspiracy to commit fraud.

Gary Kelly, a 21-year-old from Manchester, was jailed for five years after he pleaded guilty to the same charges and also conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud and conspiracy to cause unauthorised modification to computers.

Ryan Thomas, 18, from Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire, worked as a moderator on the website and was sentenced to a total of four years in prison after pleading guilty to the same charges as Webber.

Shakira Ricardo, 21, from Swansea, was jailed for 18 months after she admitted conspiracy to make or supply articles for use in fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud and acquiring criminal property.

Judge Price told the gang: "I'm extremely conscious of the youth of you all.

"Were you four or five years older the sentence would be much longer."

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