An online fraudster who conned hundreds of thousands of pounds out of banking customers has been jailed for more than three years following a NCA investigation.
NCA cyber crime investigators identified that Belarusian national Denis Kupcevich, 43, was using stolen identities to commit fraud and open bank accounts through which he would launder the illicit earnings.
Kupcevich was tracked down after NCA officers linked banking details in the name of one of his aliases with Deliveroo deliveries to a flat in Baines Close, South Croydon.
He was placed under surveillance and officers watched as he moved between various high-end hotels and residential properties in London and Poole over a six month period.
Investigators ultimately uncovered that Kupcevich and his criminal associates used the hotels and short term lets as bases for their criminal enterprise. From here, they would contact victims by phone and use social engineering tactics to manipulate them into handing over money.
One victim described how she and her husband were defrauded out of almost £160,000 after an operator purporting to be from the bank called her to say that money needed to be transferred due to a security risk.
Another victim was conned into paying £12,400 for a second hand BMW which never materialised.
Kupcevich went under several aliases, the majority of the time assuming the identity of two men, one a Moldovan national and the other was from Bulgaria. Neither men were aware that their identities had been stolen and Kupcevich used these names to obtain a fake Bulgarian passport and identity card.
These stolen identities were used to create false documents to open numerous bank accounts, through which the stolen money could be laundered.
Kupcevich also created a real estate agency called “Look4 Home” in February 2020, listing one of the stolen names as a director before it was dissolved in August 2021. More than £55,000 is believed to have been laundered through its bank account, despite the fact that no legitimate earnings were ever recorded for the company.
He also stole a business identity for a legitimate childcare company and created a bank account in its name where the proceeds of fraudulent transactions were deposited. Enquiries with the company director revealed she was not aware the account had been created.
NCA officers arrested Kupcevich at the flat in Croydon in May last year, and seized 10 mobile phones, four laptops and two bank cards in a different name. Some of the phones had screenshots of multiple illegal banking transactions.
The NCA investigation identified a large number of potential victim’s bank accounts, both personal and business, which the fraudsters had plans to target.
Investigators were able to share details with the relevant banks before the frauds could take place and as a result, more than £2 million pounds was prevented from leaving the accounts.
When questioned, Kupcevich admitted performing the role of a cashing out facilitator for a criminal network, where they deposited stolen money into his accounts and he retained about 40%.
Kupcevich, who first entered the UK illegally by using a false identity in 2004, was charged with one count of money laundering, two counts of possession of identity documents with improper intention and one count of articles for use in fraud.
He pleaded guilty to all the charges at Southwark Crown Court on 22 September and was jailed for three years and four months at the same court on Tuesday (11 April). He will be deported after serving his sentence.
Timothy Court, of the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Kupcevich played a vital role in the criminal ecosystem by enabling fraudsters to conceal their activity and access their illicit earnings.
“By arresting Kupcevich, the NCA has starved criminals of this service and protected the public from those seeking to cruelly steal money from unsuspecting victims.”
Criminals are great pretenders. They may contact you pretending to be a trusted person or company. Millions of people are targeted by scam messages or phone calls like this every year. So if something seems suspicious or unexpected, such as requests for money or information, contact the organisation directly to check.
Make sure you use details from their official website, which you can find by searching for the company on Google or another trusted search engine. Never use the phone numbers or web addresses in a voicemail or text message.
If you have fallen victim to fraud or cyber crime, report it any time at www.actionfraud.police.uk. In Scotland, report it to Police Scotland by calling 101. If you are a victim of fraud, report it to your bank so they can take action to protect your account.
13 April 2023