Music sales put the FBI in a spin

July 2009


A gang of chart savvy popsters who made allegedly made hundreds of thousands of pounds laundering money taken from stolen credit card by buying their own sound recordings from iTunes and Amazon have been arrested in a joint operation between Britain and the USA .  The gang are alleged to have made several songs which they gave to an online US company which  uploaded them to be sold online – and over five months they bought their own songs thousands of times, spending around $750,000 (£468,750) on 1,500 stolen US and UK credit cards. According to the Metropolitan Police and the FBI, the criminal network then allegedly reaped the royalties from the tracks, pulling in an estimated $300,000, paid over by the two sites. Both sites were unaware of the fraud being committed against them. A chart topping sixty officers from the Met’s central e-crime unit and West Midlands Police arrested seven men and three women in London, Birmingham, Kent and Wolverhampton who are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering. The Guardian report that Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson, of the e-crime unit, had this to say: “This has been a complex investigation to establish what we believe to be an international conspiracy to defraud Apple and Amazon. This investigation, with its national and international dimension, exemplifies why we have set up this national response to e-crime. The arrests included three men aged 19, 23, and 41, and one woman, 37, all from Wolverhampton; a woman, 22, from Dartford, Kent; a woman, 36, and two men, 34 and 40, from Birmingham; and two men, 22 and 46, from Peckham, south London. The question I want to know is this – with all these paid for downloads did any of the gang’s recordings make the digital download charts? Now that would have been top of the pops.

More on money laundering at How to launder money by Philip Brewer

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