A Lewisham man has been convicted of laundering millions obtained from victims by a criminal network posing as their bank in text messages.

Clarke Daniel Morgan-Findlay, 26, of Hunsdon Road, pleaded guilty to two counts of money laundering at Inner London Crown Court on Friday.

He was part of an organised crime network, along with Newham accomplice Quin Huang, which engaged in a form of fraud known as ‘smishing’.

The method targets individuals and companies using SMS text messages to induce victims to divulge their personal bank account information.

In most cases, the victim would receive a text message appearing to be from their bank requesting a call in relation to an unusual payment.

The fraudulent message usually appears on the victim’s mobile phone in the same thread as genuine texts received from their bank, deceiving them into thinking it is legitimate.

The victim is then asked to call a number which put them in direct contact with the fraudsters, who pose as banking staff and take the details needed to access their bank account.

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Quin Huang

Their money is then fraudulently transferred out of their account by the criminals into ‘mule’ bank accounts that have been set-up for this purpose.

Huang and Morgan-Findlay were responsible for laundering the money, which was deposited into accounts under the names of individuals they recruited, before being ‘cashed out’.

They would then attend high-end stores, usually in Oxford Street and Knightsbridge, purchasing luxury items such as designer handbags, jewellery and giftcards, which would be sent back to the crime network.

After the laundering process was completed, Morgan-Findlay would often brag to his numerous contacts and send videos and screenshots of the mule account displaying the stolen proceeds in a bid to encourage them to open more mule accounts.

The Met opened an investigation after officers were alerted to a Facebook account, which appeared to be in use for the sole purpose of attracting money mules.

Videos and photographs were posted on the account requesting various types of accounts that the Facebook user wanted.

In one of the videos, the user is seen wearing a Cartier watch with a black strap. During another communication, he gave a mobile number that he could be contacted on – this came back as belonging to Morgan-Findlay.

In April 2018, Morgan-Findlay was arrested by officers, who recovered the mobile phones and a number of items including a Cartier watch identical to the one in the Facebook video.

He was released under investigation pending further enquiries. He was interviewed under caution on two further occasions in 2018 and 2019, where he answered no comment to all questions put to him.

Officers re-arrested Morgan-Findlay at his home address on Tuesday, 23 June on suspicion of money laundering offences. He answered no comment to all questions put to him and was charged the same day.

Detective Constable Ray Black, the investigating officer from the Met’s Cyber Crime Unit, said: “Huang and Morgan-Findlay made their living off the misery of others. While there’s no evidence to suggest they directly defrauded the victims themselves, they clearly played a key role in this organised crime network.

“Money laundering is often glamorised in popular media, and can be thought of as a victimless crime, however every pound involved has been taken from an innocent member of the public and it has a significant impact on their lives.”