The leader of an identity fraud gang which stole almost £200,000 has been jailed for four years.
David Levi, 29, of Clifton Drive North in Lytham, Lancashire, tricked people using the internet auction site eBay into giving away their account details.
He admitted three counts of fraud and perverting the course of justice at Preston Crown Court on Tuesday.
It is thought to be the first UK conviction for the practice, which is known as phishing fraud.
More than 160 people were duped in the scam in 12 months between July 2003 and July 2004.
The gang was masterminded by Levi, who enlisted his younger brother Guy, 22, and IT expert Daniel Lett, also 22, to help in the scam.
Four other men allowed them to use their bank accounts so they could hide the money.
The court was told they set up a network of computers which sent out e-mails to eBay customers asking for their details.
People who replied thought they were taken to a secure eBay site when they were in fact connected to the criminals’ own computers.
Using these stolen eBay credentials the gang would then access the accounts of vendors with a reliable, recommended sales history and assume their eBay identity.
The gang would then offer expensive items up for sale, such as laptop computers and designer watches, before disappearing with the cash.
Guy Levi, of Porland Court, St Annes, Lancashire, was jailed for 21 months after pleading guilty to conspiracy to defraud.
Daniel Lett, of St Annes Road, Lytham, Lancashire, was given a two-year jail term after admitting charges of conspiracy to defraud.
Derek Anderson, 59, of Pilling Avenue, St Annes; Chris Worden, 23, of Shore Street, Blackpool; Craig Jameson, 31, of Councillor Lane, Cheadle, Greater Manchester; and Gareth Rice, 22, of Derbe Road, St Annes, were each jailed for six months on money laundering charges.
Judge Phillip Sycamore said the gang had embarked on “a persistent course of criminal conduct with a callous disregard for those who lost money”.