Lincolnshire teenager earns £ 2million from fake fraud on Love2Shop gift voucher website

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A Lincolnshire schoolboy who set up a fake website to collect details of dozens of victims has amassed a fortune of over £ 2million.

The boy, originally from the south of the county and operating from his bedroom, used the first weeks of the lockdown and his ill-gotten gains to buy Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies which then soared in value.

By the time the police caught up with him, the cryptocurrency he bought had risen by over £ 2million.

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Sam Skinner, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court that in April 2020 the boy created a fake site almost identical to the official Love2Shop site, which sells gift certificates.

He then paid for Google advertising which caused his fake site to appear above the genuine site when people searched for Love2Shop.

The victims entered their email addresses and their Love2Shop account details on the bogus site before they were transferred to the genuine site.

The boy used the data he gathered to convert £ 6,500 in vouchers to his own Love2Shop account.

He deleted his bogus site after a week, just as Love2Shop began investigating him following a customer complaint.

The ensuing police investigation revealed that he had over 12,000 credit card numbers stored on his computer and had 197 PayPal accounts.

Mr Skinner said: ‘He had received through his PayPal accounts between January and March 2020 a total of £ 323,000. These sums arrived in his account and were transferred into cryptocurrency.

“The police found a large amount of cryptocurrency.

“There were 48 Bitcoins and a smaller number of other coins. Back then they were worth £ 200,000. They are now worth just over £ 2million.”

The boy, now 17 and studying for his A levels, admitted money laundering charges between April 9-16 last year and fraud totaling £ 6,539 per misrepresentation between the same dates .

An order was issued prohibiting the publication of his name.

He received a 12-month youth rehabilitation order that included a supervision requirement and 150 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Catarina Sjolin Knight ruled that he benefited from his crimes of £ 2,141,720 and ordered the confiscation of that amount from his property.

The judge said: “If he was an adult he would go inside.”

She told the boy, “You have a long-standing interest in computers. Unfortunately, you used your skills to commit sophisticated fraud.

Nicola Hornby, in mitigation, said the boy had never been convicted and had not been in trouble since his arrest.

She described him as “a very capable young man” who had matured in the 18 months since he committed the offenses and is now focusing on his A levels.

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