Mastermind Behind iSpoof Scam Site Jailed for 13 Years

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SOUTHWARK—A cyber criminal who ran a website which enabled fraudsters to trick 200,000 people around the world—many of them elderly—out of £100 million has been jailed for 13 years and four months.

Tejay Fletcher, 35, was the co-founder and administrator of iSpoof, a website which became a “fraud shop” for scammers who defrauded around £43 million out of British residents and millions more from people in the United States and elsewhere.

Last month Fletcher pleaded guilty to making or supplying articles for use in fraud, encouraging or assisting the commission of an offence, possessing criminal property, and transferring criminal property.

Software tools provided by iSpoof allowed criminals to mask their own phone numbers and trick victims into thinking they were being contacted by genuine staff from banks, tax offices or even fraud departments, who would ask for their account details or bank card details in order to steal cash.

Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court on Friday, Deputy Circuit Judge Sally Cahill, KC, said, “For all the victims it was a harrowing experience.”

Epoch Times Photo
A screen grab from the iSpoof website, as it looked on March 7, 2022. (The Way Back Machine)

The court heard iSpoof was created by Fletcher and another man, Bruno Bilaver, in December 2020 and operated until November 2022.

Bilaver left in July 2021 and Fletcher ran iSpoof alone until he was arrested.

At one point iSpoof had 59,000 users, who paid for criminal software which would allow them to generate phone numbers, known as spoofing.

Spoofers Besieged Unwitting Victims

At its peak, spoofers were calling 20 people per minute using technology such as IVR and Telepin bought from the site.

Prosecutor John Ojakovoh said, “This is a case which concerns the facilitation of fraud on an industrial scale through iSpoof, which provided tools for fraudsters to besiege unwitting members of the public with spoof calls which appeared to be from genuine phone numbers of organisations, such as a bank.”

He said the spoofers used iSpoof’s tools to trick individuals into thinking they were calling from banks or fraud departments.

Ojakovoh said, “One facility allowed them to intercept OTP (one-time password) which banks ironically introduced to try and improve security and this technology was bypassing that.”

He said another tool which tricked victims into entering new card details by claiming the information held by a trusted organisation was out of date was a “particularly dastardly exploitation of people’s busy lives.”

Ojakovoh said Fletcher ran a Telegram channel called The iSpoof Club in which he marketed new features and encouraged spoofers to “escalate” their frauds.

He read out one message which Fletcher posted on the Telegram channel on Aug. 27, 2021: “Good morning spoofers. Team iSpoof would like to wish you a great day getting those dollars.”

The Metropolitan Police’s Cyber Crime Unit launched Operation Elaborate and, working with the FBI, Eurojust, and law enforcement authorities in the Netherlands and Ukraine took down the website in November 2022.

British police had persuaded the Dutch authorities to hack into the website’s servers in the Netherlands and this allowed them to listen in to the phone calls which were made by scammers.

Fletcher was arrested at his girlfriend’s home in Clapton, east London. Detectives raided his luxury apartment in Canning Town and confiscated computer equipment and hard drives which linked him to iSpoof.

Epoch Times Photo
A screengrab of a video of Metropolitan Police officers arresting Tejay Flecther, as part of Operation Elaborate, in east London in November 2022. (Metropolitan Police)

Fletcher was also in possession of large amounts of Bitcoin, a form of cryptocurrency which scammers had used to pay him for the services of iSpoof.

He charged between £150 and £5,000 per month and the police said at its peak the website was generating 20 cold calls per minute.

Ojakovoh said software sold through iSpoof earned £3.2 million in Bitcoin and the “lion’s share” of £2 million was earned by Fletcher.

Forty percent of those who were targeted were in the United States, 35 percent were in the UK and the remainder were in a variety of other countries.

The biggest single loss by one individual was £3 million and 4,785 people who contacted Action Fraud lost an average of £10,000.

Fletcher Lived ‘Lavish’ Lifestyle

Ojakovoh told the court Fletcher lived a “lavish” lifestyle in a luxury rented apartment, owned three high-end vehicles, including a Lamborghini worth £230,000 and a Range Rover worth £90,000. Fletcher also had an £11,000 Rolex watch and an Audemars Piguet watch which turned out to be fake.

His lawyer, Simon Baker, KC, said: “He does not pretend for a moment that he did not know fraud was being perpetrated but his role was one of two steps removed from the fraud. He was insulated from the reality of what was being done. He knew there were victims but he didn’t know who they were and what was being said to them. They were in the abstract.”

Baker said he was only forced to “confront the reality” in April this year when he read for the first time statements which had been written by some of the victims.

Kate Anderson, deputy chief crown prosecutor for the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), said, “Fraud is not a victimless crime and the cost to the many victims in this case has not just been financial, it has also had a huge emotional impact, causing extreme distress and devastation to those affected, many of whom had their life savings stolen from them.”

Fletcher pleaded not guilty to two counts of possession of articles for use in frauds, relating to sets of banking details found on a laptop, and a count of “failing to comply with a section 49 notice, contrary to section 53(1) of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000”, all of which were ordered to lie on file.

The CPS intends to launch separate proceedings to seize Fletcher’s assets.

Asked by The Epoch Times if the co-founder of iSpoof, Bilaver, faced prosecution, Ojakovoh said, “He does not live in the jurisdiction.”

PA Media contributed to this report.

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