Sat, 17 Nov 2018
A WEST Berkshire man has been jailed for three years for fraud and cyber crime offences following an investigation by the Cyber Crime Unit, part of the South East Regional Organised Crime Unit (SEROCU).
Ernest Edjeren, aged 39, of Balfour Drive, Calcot, was found guilty by an unanimous verdict of three counts of fraud by false representation and by a majority verdict of causing a computer to perform a function with intent to secure unauthorised access, a crime under the Computer Misuse Act.
Edjeren was convicted on Tuesday, November 13 at Reading Crown Court after a seven day trial.
Between January 2016 and June 2016, Edjeren targeted the members of the Orange County Employee Retirement System (OCERS), a pension company for retired public sector workers within Orange County in the United States.
Members have the option of receiving payment via a monthly cheque, sent to their home, or signing up for an online account and choosing to be paid directly into their bank account.
Edjeren created fraudulent accounts for four members that were receiving payment by cheque.
After creating the accounts he changed their payment methods from cheque, to an online bank account, intending for their pension payments to be paid into an account under his control.
In total, more than £15,000 a month in pension payments was at risk had Edjeren’s actions not been identified and stopped.
OCERS quickly identified the incident and notified the Orange County Sheriff’s Department which began to investigate. The IP address of the offender was traced through a VPN (Virtual Private Network) company which led to the identification of Edjeren at his home in Reading.
He was arrested by detectives from SEROCU’s Cyber Crime Unit and subsequently charged on 20 September 2017.
During his arrest detectives seized four laptops from his home, all of which had been recently wiped, however data was recovered from two of the laptops, which included a ‘victim list’ containing a list of elderly people in the United States, their social security numbers, dates of birth, addresses and their credit card numbers.
Detective Sergeant Gary Hooks, who led the investigation from SEROCU’s Cyber Crime Unit, said: “This was a huge combined effort of many people.
"My thanks goes to the US victims who supported the investigation throughout and provided statements to the police. Also I would like to thank the Orange County Employee Retirement System (OCERS) which gave video evidence during the trial, and also to the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for assisting with US-based enquiries.
“I believe the sentence passed to Mr Edjeren sends out a message that if you commit cyber crime offences, whether the victims are in the UK or abroad, we will investigate and seek justice for them.
“Hopefully the sentence can provide some closure to the victims and their families, especially considering that Mr Edjeren was deliberately intending to steal the pensions of elderly, retired workers.
"This conviction highlights the serious nature of cyber crime, and that attempts to hide your identity or activity online will be unsuccessful.”
Edjeren was jailed for three years for one count of fraud by false representation; six months’ imprisonment for a second count of fraud by false representation; six months’ imprisonment for a third count of fraud by false representation; and six months’ imprisonment for the Computer Misuse Act offence.
All of the sentences will run concurrently.