A serial fraudster who built his own bespoke device to help him defraud hundreds of people of an estimated £500,000 has been jailed for nearly two years, police said.
Tony Muldowney-Colston, 53, built the hi-tech machine to con people into thinking he was their banking provider.
When he was arrested in June this year, Muldowney-Colston told police he created the device with the intention of gaining access to genuine customer accounts and retrieving the available funds.
Officers also seized a hard drive containing details of passports and identity cards, 32 credit cards, and a spreadsheet containing names, addresses, e-mail addresses and phone numbers pertaining to a private members’ club in central London.
Police believe Muldowney-Colston obtained more than £500,000 from the accounts he accessed.
Muldowney-Colston was charged with nine counts of possession of an article for use in fraud and two counts of making or supplying an article for use in fraud.
He pleaded guilty to the 11 charges and was jailed for 20 months at Southwark Crown Court on December 12.
Detectives from the Met Police’s cyber crime unit began investigating Muldowney-Colston in January after identifying him as a key player in UK-wide cyber crime.
The fraudster, who is also known as Tony Colston-Hayter, was previously jailed in 2014 for five-and-a-half years for his role in plundering £1.25 million from British banks.
He led the gang which used a “Trojan horse” device to hijack computers at branches of Barclays and Santander and siphon off cash.
Muldowney-Colston, the son of a university lecturer and solicitor, had gained notoriety in the late 1980s for throwing acid house raves in the Home Counties.
He had once been a successful businessman and had been on the Jonathan Ross show.
But his life turned and he started to abuse Class A drugs.
Detective Inspector Philip McInerney, from the Met Police’s cyber crime unit, said: “The scam carried out by Muldowney-Colston affected hundreds of people across the UK, and had the potential to affect many more.
“He is an audacious criminal who only recently was released from prison for carrying out very similar offences.
“He shows no concern for the welfare of any individual or organisation, and has made it clear he will use a range of methods to achieve significant financial gain for himself.
“I am very grateful to our partners in the banking industry who have worked closely with us on this and a number of investigations.
“This should send a clear message to anyone considering committing crimes of this nature that we have the tools and methods to identify you and bring you to justice.”