Wolverhampton University student at centre of £600k rail ticket racket 'feared to have fled abroad'
A Wolverhampton University computer student at the centre of a £600,000 rail fraud is feared to have fled abroad after disappearing from his Black Country home.
Charles Ogunsanmi used the illegally obtained personal details of trusted customers of thetrainline.com, to buy tickets in their name which were then sold to other people at cut price, explained Mr John Evans, prosecuting.
The loyalty of those targeted meant they could use different credit cards for purchases and get tickets from a railway station machine without the normal two hour wait, it was said.
The 29-year-old cashed in on the benefits in a bid to get 3,488 tickets, worth a total of £639.152, in just 13 months. He 'bought' to order for others but was not always successful.
It is unclear how Ogunsanmi got the personal details but he slightly altered them if the initial attempt was rejected, meaning multiple applications were made for the same ticket.
Investigators discovered that at least £90,422 of them were received while £54,000 other initially successful purchases were later declined.
They were unable to say exactly how many of the tickets were used for travel but at least £131,000 was probably pocketed from the fraud.
Trainline were alerted by banks whose customers complained after being charged for tickets they had not bought but it took time to establish a single person was responsible.
The defendant 'bought' a ticket by logging on with the details of the chosen victim and altering the password before making a 'purchase' either by phone or via the internet. His mistake was to always use the same replacement password – 100 percent.
This enabled investigators to identify those in which he was involved and trace the culprit through the internet protocol address of the device used.
He was arrested at his home in Burland Avenue, Claregate by British Transport Police on February 3 2015. Officers seized his computer which had files containing 'credit card details, security numbers and the like,' said Mr Evans.
Undaunted Ogunsanmi carried on with the swindle from his father's address in Northampton for a short time, revealed the prosecutor.
The defendant pleaded guilty to fraud on April 12 this year, days before his trial was due to start, and was remanded on bail. He attended an interview with the probation officer preparing his pre sentence report and then vanished.
Mr Mohammed Ramzan, defending, confirmed: "He has absconded." Judge Barry Berlin observed: "He is probably in a different country."
Ogunsanmi was jailed for four and a half years in his absence at Wolverhampton Crown Court and the judge concluded: "This was a substantial and sophisticated fraud."