The final three members of an 11-strong gang that scammed iTunes and Amazon out of £500,000 worth of royalty payments have been charged with fraud and money laundering by Southwark Crown Court.
Craig Anderson, Arran Jassi and Lamar Johnson all pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit fraud, after using three online music management companies to upload UK-produced urban music albums and tracks for sale on Apple iTunes and Amazon.com.
The principal organiser, Craig Anderson, then reportedly acquired thousands of compromised US and UK credit cards, which then used by a number of individuals to make over 500,000 online purchases of the music.
Anderson has been sentenced to 4 years 8 months imprisonment. Jassi and Johnson were both given 8 months, but Jassi's sentence has been suspended.
The fraud, which was first identified by Apple in 2009, generated sales equivalent to that of a major recording artist, according to The Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) of the Metropolitan Police. The estimated loss to the victims, Apple and Amazon, is believed to be in the region of £1 million.
The investigation was first launched by the New York Police Department, but was passed to the PCeU when it became apparent that the operation was based in the UK. In total, 11 individuals have been convicted and sentenced to a total of 13 years, four months imprisonment.
"The nature of online commerce presents opportunities for sophisticated and resourceful cyber criminals, operating across national boundaries and jurisdictions," said DC Simon Mills of the PceU.
"We hope the successful outcome of this and other PCeU investigations will serve as a deterrent to those contemplating these conspiracies, will put fear into the minds of those engaged in them and will serve to reduce the harm caused by cyber crime."
The PCeU is a national unit created to respond to the most serious incidents of cyber crime in the UK, and forms part of the government's response to cyber threats, under the National Cyber Security Programme.
Earlier this month, the unit arrested 14 people in connection with a phishing attack that robbed a British woman of her £1 million life savings.