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British Scam Nets Huge iTunes Royalties from Unknown Artists

iTunes keynote in silhouetteYou’ve got to hand it to criminals — sometimes, the tricks they come up with to dupe folks out of money is just amazingly clever. For example, the case of a gang of 11 in England who used stolen credit cards to buy their own unknown music from iTunes and Amazon and score big on royalty payments.

BBC News England is reporting
that a clever scam involving stolen credit cards and royalty payments has been shut down after a gang of 11 young men from Kent, Derby, Birmingham and Wolverhamption were finally caught.

According to the report, the 24-year-old ringleader of the group purchased 24 identical laptops, then obtained “thousands of stolen or compromised credit card details,” recruiting his young friends to log into iTunes and Amazon and buy music from unknown artists.

Credit card theft aside, what exactly is the point of this crime? As it turns out, the unknown artists in question were none other than music created by the gang itself, who in turn were cashing in on royalty payments of £500,000 over a span of nearly a year and half, between January, 2008 and June, 2009.

Unfortunately for the criminals, the royalty payments triggered an alarm with Apple, who noted “they were paying royalties to what appeared to be utterly unknown artists in the Wolverhampton area at a rate they expect to pay to someone like Madonna.”

According to the report, iTunes and Amazon have racked up losses “between £750,000 and £1m” as a result of the scam, which sent five members to jail, one to a youth offenders institution and the remainder serving non-custodial sentences; two others were cleared of any wrongdoing.

So hey, aspiring musicians! We had this great idea for selling your music on iTunes…

Follow this article’s author, J.R. Bookwalter on Twitter

(Image courtesy of The Guardian)



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