Offender jailed for bringing fraud material here

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A 22-year-old Scotsman was sentenced to 22 months in prison for possession of items for fraudulent purposes, importing cannabis and a Class ‘C’ drug.

Callum McClung will spend half in custody here, and the other half on license under the supervision of the West Lothian Probation Service in Scotland.

An exclusion order was also issued for the offences, which McClung admitted in March, meaning he is now barred from entering the island for five years.

McClung was apprehended at the marine terminal in possession of an “SMS blaster” device used to send bulk text messages, and an HP laptop with the “SMS caster” program installed, for the same purpose.

Initially arrested because port security discovered he smelled of cannabis, when questioned McClung was unable to provide a satisfactory reason for visiting the island.

He was found in possession of 7.5 grams of cannabis plant and 17 tablets of gabapentin, a class C drug.

Gabapentin is an anticonvulsant drug primarily used to treat partial-onset seizures and neuropathic pain and is prescribed by doctors. However, there is a black market in there.

McClung was also found to have several iPhones and, on subsequent examination, the data included ‘thousands’ of UK bank details and associated contact numbers, some of which were labeled under ‘victim information’. .

There was also a “script” designed for a fraudulent caller to impersonate the HSBC fraud team.

Messages discovered included those that read: “SIM cards on the way man, let’s go”.

Defense barrister Stephen Wood argued that the purpose of McClung’s trip was to buy Manx SIM cards to use to defraud in the UK, rather than to commit fraud here.

The court heard McClung was determined to be part of a larger network, using ‘phishing’ and ‘smishing’ methods – posing as reputable companies to obtain sensitive information from people.

Deemster Cook admitted there was no evidence that McClung had committed actual fraud and that was not what he was convicted for.

Mr Wood argued that McClung was “a smart young man who struggled financially because of his drug use”.

As mitigating factors, he argued that it would be difficult for McClung to receive family visits from Scotland while serving a prison term here, and that while released on bail he had caused no problems staying at [halfway] Tromode House.

At sentencing, Deemster Cook said it was a “disgusting crime to be part of any type of plan”, and although not specifically designed to target the most vulnerable in the society, he often ended up victimizing these people.

Credit was given for McClung’s guilty pleas, but Deemster Cook said he would not order a suspended sentence as his prison sentence was meant to act as a ‘deterrent sentence’ to warn others of don’t come to the island with cheating plans.

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