A bank employee scammed bank customers of nearly £74,600 after involving himself with a so-called “mystery crime gang” from a dark web forum. A courtroom heard how the employee had discovered the dark web through a Netflix documentary on the topic.
Dayne Lynn, 23, worked at Lloyds bank at a community center in Glasgow, Scotland, Glasgow Sheriff Court heard at an October hearing. There were several charges and series of related criminal acts during the month of July in 2016, according to the prosecutor for financial crimes. Nearly one year had passed before the bank’s internal investigation team had reached out to the real police about the man’s activities that involved the unauthorized access of almost 20 bank accounts belonging to bank customers with high balance accounts.
Lynn had been living at Saltcoats, North Ayrshire, the court heard. At the time of the fraudulent bank account access, Lynn had been working as a bank employee. According to information shared in court, the young man had been working as a member of the bank’s fraud team that investigate and watch out for fraudulent payments and transfers. As a bank employee with elevated access to the accounts of bank customers, Lynn could access the accounts of various bank customers as long as the access fell under the scope of his job requirements as a fraud manager.
Ross Yuill, Lynn’s lawyer, told the court that Lynn had first accessed the dark web after watching a Netflix documentary detailing some of the hidden services readily available through the Tor browser. After watching the documentary, the lawyer told the court that, Lynn decided to see for himself if the documentary on Netflix had been an accurate portrayal of hidden or onion services. So, he downloaded the Tor Browser Bundle and searched for various forums. Based on the information provided in court, it sounded as if the former bank employee had searched for forums that focused on fraud or illicit financial activity. Assuming the information provided by the defense attorney was accurate, perhaps Lynn would have sought out a fraud forum that was the dark web alternative to a subreddit such as /r/lossprevention— a subreddit where loss prevention officers from various stores around the world talk about tactics and share other work-related information.
Perhaps, by accident, Lynn found himself on a forum that is dedicated to committing fraud instead of preventing it from occurring such as the former /r/shoplifting subreddit— the now-banned rival to /r/lossprevention. His defense attorney argued that Lynn had accidentally revealed too many personal details to a “mystery crime gang” on this dark web fraud forum. The so-called “gang members” learned that Lynn had been working in the fraud department of Lloyds bank. The alleged masterminds of the scheme took advantage of Lynn’s position as a bank employee and somehow forced or encouraged the theft of nearly £75,000. The defense attorney never said the alleged co-conspirators had coerced Lynn to steal from bank customers; Lynn seemingly made the decision willingly. However, the attorney argued that Lynn would not have committed the fraud if the fraudsters had not uncovered Lynn’s identity. At one point, Lynn said he had been threatened by these fraudsters, but the actual threat was not made clear in court.
Lynn then used his elevated access to access 19 different accounts without permission. He only stole from two accounts, though. His attempts to steal money from other bank accounts failed as the bank’s fraud team, and software had flagged them as suspicious transfers. Internal investigators immediately suspected Lynn; Lynn had used his employee credentials to access the accounts. When questioned, Lynn denied any responsibility. Nearly one year later, when questioned again, Lynn refused to answer any questions, and the bank called the police.
At an earlier hearing, Lynn pleaded guilty to embezzling and attempting to embezzle while acting with others. The bank returned both payments to the rightful account owners and nobody lost any money after the bank, and the police had completed their investigations. Lynn will be sentenced at a hearing at a later date.