Teenagers Jailed for Running £20m Net Crime Forum

The British ringleaders of the world's largest English-language online crime network have been sentenced to up to five years in prison.

The sentences came at the end of a protracted case investigating Ghostmarket.net, a forum described by the police as a "upermarket for criminals" that facilitated £16.2 million in credit card fraud.

Te site's founder, Nicholas Webber, was sentenced to five years by Southwark Crown Court, while "right-hand man" Ryan Thomas faces four years inside, according to the Guardian.

The pair were arrested in 2009 after trying to pay a £1,000 hotel bill with stolen credit cards, and the police uncovered links to the crime forum and 100,000 credit card details on Webber's computer.

The pair were 17 and 18 at the time of their arrests, but skipped bail and were re-arrested on their return from Majorca in January 2010.

The site - which also sold hacking tools and instructions on staying anonymous - had an estimated 8,000 members worldwide, listed details of credit cards, and had been been linked to losses on 65,000 bank accounts.

The report said the court was told how Webber, the son of a former Guernsey politician, used an offshore bank account in Costa Rica to clean funds from the site's takings.

A third man, Gary Kelly, was also sentenced for his part in the operation; he designed software that stole passwords and hosted the Ghostmarket site.

The court was told that Kelly was a self-taught hacker from the age of 15 and had learned to design and rewrite Zeus bots, which have been used in several high-profile bank attacks.

"There are professional hallmarks, a high level of profit, multiple victims, and the offending is over a significant period of time," the Guardian quoted prosecutor Matthew McCabe as saying.

"The GhostMarket forum existed simply to facilitate the criminal trade in compromised credit cards, access to online bank accounts and distribution of malicious software and computer hacking tricks."

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