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  • Writer's pictureThe DigitalBank Vault

#Encrochat Traitors? The criminals who gave themselves away

Investigators were astonished by the careless way suspects gave away their identities in EncroChat messages, perhaps lulled by a false belief in the impregnability of the phone’s encryption. In one case, a suspect sent a text message giving their name, date of birth and address. In other cases, suspects blatantly exchanged selfies.

“The communication wasn’t always strictly business. There was a kind of chit-chat as well, and a lot of times you can pick up little clues,” said Hayoukane.

For example, Paul Fontaine, who was convicted of conspiracy to murder, gave himself away by taking his EncroChat phone along with his ordinary registered mobile phone on journeys from London to Cardiff. Both phones connected to the same cell towers at the same time, making it highly likely that Fontaine was the owner of the EncroChat phone.

Fontaine’s client, Frankie Sinclair, who had asked Fontaine to find him a gun, was even more careless. He sent Fontaine a photograph of his mum’s house, showing his mum’s car and her registration plate. Sinclair was later convicted of conspiracy to murder.

Harry Hicks-Samuels, a cocaine trafficker, was caught after he boasted to his contacts on EncroChat about ordering a takeaway from an expensive restaurant in Mayfair and joining an upmarket golf club, effectively handing the police two shortlists of suspects. Hicks-Samuels was the only name on both lists.

In another example of criminal hubris, money launderer Lee Hannigan boasted about the model of his Ferrari and mentioned he had missed his MOT, handing police clues that led to his identity being discovered.


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