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Sheppey holiday camp cyber-hacker Grant West jailed after police catch him on train

By John Nurden

A computer hacker who operated from a caravan on Sheppey was jailed today after police seized £500,000 of Bitcoin.

Detectives say it is the first case of its kind.

Officers from Scotland Yard's Cyber Crime Unit pounced on Grant West in front of startled passengers as he travelled first class on a train.

Jailed: Hacker Grant West operated out of a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223473)
Jailed: Hacker Grant West operated out of a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223473)

West, who dubbed himself 'Courvoisier', launched cyber attacks on Sainsbury's, Asda, Argos, Uber and bookmakers Ladbrokes and Coral before selling customers' details and blowing a £500,000 Bitcoin fortune on a trip to Vegas.

He had obtained the personal data of millions of people and more than 60,000 credit details and then sold it on the 'dark web' with the help of his girlfriend Rachael Brookes.

In 2015, he managed to obtain the email addresses of 165,000 people and then sent a phishing email masquerading as Just Eat in an attempt to trick people into handing over their personal details, costing the company £200,000 to sort out.

West, who drove around in a £40,000 Audi A5 coupé, ran his operation from a caravan on the Ashcroft holiday park at Eastchurch.

Hacker's home: Ashcroft Coast Holiday Park, Sheppey (2224735)
Hacker's home: Ashcroft Coast Holiday Park, Sheppey (2224735)

It is the first time the Met Police has seized criminal property in the form of cyber-currency.

West, 26, attacked the websites of more than 100 companies worldwide.

He made at least 47,000 sales of data through the dark web, police said following a two-year investigation.

Officers found approximately 78 million individual user names and passwords and 63,000 credit and debit card details stored on a memory card in his caravan.

West admitted two counts of conspiracy to defraud, one charge of computer hacking, four charges relating to the possession and supply of cannabis, two counts of possessing criminal property and one count of money laundering Bitcoins.

Rachael Brookers: girlfriend of jailed hacker Grant West who operated out of a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223477)
Rachael Brookers: girlfriend of jailed hacker Grant West who operated out of a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223477)

His girlfriend Brookes, 26, of Denbigh, north Wales, whose computer West used in at least one of the attacks, admitted unauthorised use of computer material.

She was given a two-year community order and curfew at an earlier hearing at Southwark Crown Court in March.

Detective Chief Superintendent Mick Gallagher, head of the Met's Organised Crime Command, said: "This case illustrates the lengths our detectives will go to in order to pursue offenders on the dark web.

"We will use many different measures to ensure such offenders are identified, prosecuted and their assets are seized.

"This is the first time we have seized a cryptocurrency. We are determined to remain one step ahead of cyber criminals who believe they can act with impunity."

He added: "I wish to thank our partners within the MPS and in both public and private industry who all assisted with this investigation which was incredibly complex and lengthy.

"I am very proud of my team for bringing this offender to justice."

Just Eat scam from jailed hacker Grant West who operated out of a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223475)
Just Eat scam from jailed hacker Grant West who operated out of a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223475)

Case officer DC Helen Foster said the fraud came to light after a referral from Action Fraud who said customers from Just Eat had complained about a 'phishing email'.

The emails, sent to customers, purported to be a survey that would give the customer a £10 voucher to use on the site.

But unsuspecting punters were handing over more of their personal details which West then flogged.

Police believe he hacked around 500 companies including Sainsbury's, Nectar, Groupon, AO.com, Ladbrokes, Coral Betting, Uber, Vitality, RS Feva Class Association 2017, Asda, the British Cardiovascular Society, Mighty Deals Limited, Truly Experiences Ltd, T Mobile, M R Porter, the Finnish Bitcoin exchange, and Argos.

Courvoisier scam by jailed hacker Grant West who operated from a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223479)
Courvoisier scam by jailed hacker Grant West who operated from a caravan on the Isle of Sheppey. Picture: Metropolitan Police (2223479)

Today he was jailed for 10 years and eight months at Southwark Crown Court.

Throughout the course of the investigation £25,000 cash and half a kilogram of cannabis was seized from storage units rented by West across Kent.

West originally pleaded guilty to the following offences at Southwark Crown Court on December, 14, 2017:

2 x conspiracy to defraud;

2 x possession of criminal property;

1 x unauthorised modification of computer material;

1 x possession of a Class B drug with intent to supply;

1 x possession of Class B drug

1 x attempting to supply a controlled drug;

1 x offering to supply a Class B drug, and;

1 x concealing/removing criminal property from England and Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

* To reduce your chances of becoming a victim of cybercrime, always use strong passwords, preferably three different words and numbers and symbols. Tips on how to create a strong password are available at www.met.police.uk/advice-and-information/fraud/personal-fraud/cyber-crime/ Or you can get advice from Action Fraud, GetSafeOnline or Cyber Aware.

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