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Internet scam mastermind jailed

Date: November 17, 2005
Source: Computer Crime Research Center
By: compiled by CCRC staff

A computer obsessive nicknamed Weaselboy was jailed for six years yesterday for an elaborate internet scam that earned him more than 1.5 million.

Still only 23 years old, Peter Francis-Macrae boasted that he could bring the country's economy to its knees by crashing computer systems.

He also threatened to kill police and trading standards officers when they began investigating the online rackets he had run for five years and which, at times, brought in 200,000 a week.

A judge imprisoned him for six years, accusing him of a “catalogue of criminality” that made him a danger to the community at large, to authority and to the internet.

Francis-Macrae used spam to trick victims to pay him to register for new European Internet addresses ending in “.eu”. The scam earned him 200,000 a fortnight.

One woman lost 10,000. When trading standards and police began investigating 2,000 complaints about his frauds, he repeatedly telephoned their switchboards and threatened to cut staff’s throats.

“You are one of the most vindictive young men I have ever seen,” Judge Nicholas Coleman told the defendant at Peterborough Crown Court.

Cambridgeshire police said that this case proved that internet fraudsters could never hide behind their computers.

Francis-Macrae was arrested minutes before he could carry out a threat to crash Britain’s internet system using his army of 200,000 zombie computers.

He conned thousands of victims all over the world from a business created using a home computer in a bedroom at his father’s Victorian terraced house in St Neots, Cambridgeshire.

The money was spent indulging his passion for helicopters by taking lessons and getting a flying licence. He bought himself 12,000 worth of Yves Saint Laurent designer clothes.

The police are trying to find and confiscate nearly 500,000 that Francis-Macrae withdrew from a building society. He said in the witness box that he had access to the money but refused to give its location.

Francis-Macrae was convicted of making threats to kill two women, threatening to damage or destroy property by claiming that he would burn down Cambridgeshire trading standards department, blackmail, fraudulent trading and money laundering. He was cleared of two other charges of threatening to kill. The jury took a day and a half to reach unanimous verdicts after a month- long trail that was technically complex.

Francis-Macrae has spent nearly a year remanded in custody at jail in Peterborough after breaking bail conditions.

An investigation by The Times last year disclosed that he was Britain’s most prolific sender of unsolicited “spam” e-mails.

He cut a striking figure in court: a slight young man wearing a selection of smart-casual outfits, who sneered as he listened to the proceedings and made painstaking notes on large bundles of written evidence. He told one police operator that he hoped she would die of cancer, which was particularly distressing since she had had the disease diagnosed.


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Discussion is closed - view comments archieve
2005-12-30 02:38:46 - How do you get an army of 2000 000 zombie... Eneas
2005-12-22 08:35:47 - i wan't u to ask this guy that if he was... simon abera
2005-12-11 15:34:27 - He should have gotten 6 years just for... Dawn
2005-11-20 16:29:17 - i am surprised he did not get more than 6... susan
2005-11-20 16:10:12 - i think he should have gotten more than 6... mia ibanez
2005-11-17 05:29:48 - that dude is sick joe
2005-11-17 05:29:37 - that dude is sick joe
Total 7 comments
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