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A British court on Monday sentenced an American man to six years in jail for stealing up to 6.5 million pounds (US$11.9 million; euro9.8 million) through an international identity fraud operation. Douglas Havard, 24, received the sentence at Leeds Crown Court after pleading guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money. Prosecutors told the court that Havard, who was born in the United States but lives in Britain, ran the British arm of an international ring of fraudsters. He stole people’s identities and used their bank account details to remove money from accounts and buy goods online before reselling them. He also used cloned credit cards to purchase goods. Officers from Britain’s National Hi-Tech Crime Unit estimated that Havard, and co-accused Lee Elwood, 25, of Glasgow, Scotland, stole at least 750,000 pounds (US$1.4 million; euro1.1 million) during a 10-month period up until they were caught in June last year, but said the total proceeds of their crime could have been as much as 6.5 million pounds (US$11.9 million; euro9.8 million). The United States Secret Service and the FBI were also involved in the investigation. Elwood, who also pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to defraud and conspiracy to launder money, was jailed for four years. Officers who searched Havard’s property in Leeds, northern England, found bank accounts in 10 different people’s names, and forged travelers checks. Prosecutors said Havard admitted receiving credit card information and passwords from unnamed Russians, to whom he passed on a cut of his earnings. Havard and Elwood used the credit card information to purchase goods online and employed others to receive the goods and resell them through online auction sites. The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit said the pair also used Internet sites to exchange stolen information and counterfeit documents such as credit cards, driver’s licenses, passports and birth certificates. Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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