A group of DJs allegedly used stolen credit cards to buy their own songs on iTunes and Amazon, boosting their chart ratings and netting them nearly £200,000 in royalties.
The nine musicians are believed to have provided 19 songs, described by police as of ‘indeterminate quality’, to a distribution company which uploaded them to the music websites.
They then used 1,500 stolen or cloned US and British credit cards to buy almost £500,000-worth of the songs.
As the tunes soared up the charts, more and more people bought them and the DJs even came to the attention of big record producers – until they were arrested yesterday.
‘This has been a complex investigation to establish what we believe to be an international conspiracy to defraud Apple and Amazon,’ said Det Ch Insp Terry Wilson, of the Met’s Police Central e-Crime Unit.
The scam began last September when the DJs provided American music distributor Tunecore with their work.
Once uploaded to iTunes and Amazon, the musicians opened accounts with the stolen cards and began downloading their albums at about £6 a time.
During the next few months, the two companies paid out royalties totalling $300,000 ( £185,000) on the sales.
But in December, Apple – owner of iTunes – began to receive ‘stop payment’ orders from credit card companies, saying accounts were fraudulent.
It contacted police in New York and, with the Met’s help, the accounts were traced to London.
The DJs, aged 19 to 41, were arrested in London and the Midlands on suspicion of conspiracy to commit fraud and money laundering.