I must be missing something. English prosecutors are heralding the sentencing of Mohammed Khalid Jamil as a “landmark case” in their campaign against computer fraud. Jamil ran an international conspiracy to defraud people of millions in a Microsoft scam. However, he received just a four-month sentence and that sentence was promptly suspended. As for the fine, he was told to pay £5,665. How exactly is that a landmark?
Jamil, 34, allegedly convinced people to pay him over over £1million a year by using a phone banks in India and Dubai to cold call home and say that they were from Microsoft. The families were told that their computers were infected and needed to be cleaned. Victims were told that the callers could take over their computers remotely and cure the problem for a fee of between between £30 and £150.
It was a great achievement of the National Trading Standards eCrime Team to track down this crook. However, it is hard to see how people like Jamil will be deterred with such low penalties. In law school, we often teach the economic principle that deterrence results from adjustments of the penalty to reflect the rate of detection. The lower the detection, the higher the penalty must be to achieve the same level of deterrence under this theory. In this case, both the detection and the penalty are remarkably low. This would have seemed an excellent case to demonstrate the costs of such criminal activities.
Jamil’s operation, Smart Support Guys, was the source of hundreds of complaints. What makes this low penalty even more bizarre is that Jamil had previously been warned by Luton Trading Standards for running an earlier version of the scam under a different name. Many of his victims were elderly. All of these aggravating features were considered in the sentencing but he was then given a suspended sentence and a tiny fine.
He was left with a suspended four-month jail sentence and ordered to pay a fine of £5,000, costs of £13,929 and compensation of £5,665. Notably, the prosecution costs are greater than the victim fines. At that rate, Jamil’s Smart Support Guys was a roaring success.
Am I missing something?