Scammer wanted in US over £7m fraud wants to stay in "much nicer" Scottish jail (2024)

A Scots scammer wanted in America over a £7 million online fraud wants to remain in a Scottish jail as “it’s a much nicer prison system”.

Robert Barr, 27, was jailed for 21 months at Airdrie Sheriff Court last week for hacking into the email accounts of a cryptocurrency trader in England.

He and an accomplice stole around £3,000 and were only stopped from getting another £33,000 when the victim employed security experts to prevent funds being transferred.

After the hearing Barr, 27, of Biggar, Lanarkshire, appeared in court in Edinburgh for the latest chapter in his long-running fight against extradition to the US.

Defence advocate Fred Mackintosh said Barr fears “a very long sentence” if he’s convicted in the US.

Mackintosh said he’s happier serving his time in Scotland as “it’s a much nicer prison system”.

The Airdrie court was told that Barr has been in custody for much of the past two years in connection with the extradition case.

Mr Mackintosh stated: “If extradited to America and convicted, he would receive a very long sentence.

“If he is jailed today he would probably want to serve his sentence in this country because it’s a much nicer prison system than that in America, but it’s not up to him.”

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The court heard that Barr suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, but his lawyer added: “He accepts full responsibility. He was well aware of what he was doing.”

Barr was arrested after the FBI named him as a suspect in a huge cryptocurrency fraud.

It’s alleged that Barr and associates stole £7 million in digital cash from New York-based financier Reggie Middleton.

They allegedly used the victim’s phone number to access his email and other accounts before changing passwords and locating cryptocurrency addresses.

A second, unnamed victim is said to have lost £485,000 from her accounts in a similar scam.

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The alleged frauds date back to 2017. Barr, who faces up to 20 years in prison in the US if convicted, is said to have carried out the crimes from his mother’s home in Kilbirnie, Ayrshire.

The extradition case has been further adjourned until next month.

At last week’s Airdrie hearing, Barr admitted defrauding and attempting to defraud English cryptocurrency trader Christopher Morley between May 11 and June 23, 2022 - four months after getting bail in relation to the extradition case.

The court heard that a man pretending to be Mr Morley made a phone request to have his Sky email account password reset.

This was done, allowing Barr and his accomplice access to digital wallets that held Mr Morley’s cryptocurrency assets.

He discovered his account had been hacked and Ethereum cryptocurrency worth around £3,000 was missing.

Further amounts worth £33,000 were at risk of disappearing in phased transactions but Mr Morely employed a firm of specialists at a cost of £2,500 to intervene and prevent this.

An IP address linked to Barr was found and police armed with a search warrant raided his home in Biggar. They seized an Apple Macbook Pro and an iPhone. These contained details of Mr Morley’s email and cryptocurrency accounts.

Passing sentence, Sheriff Derek Livingston told Barr: “This was quite a complex fraud and it was well-planned.

“I have to take that into account as well as the fact that you have a degree of insight into what you did and accept your culpability. Otherwise the sentence I’m imposing would be a good deal higher.”

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Scammer wanted in US over £7m fraud wants to stay in "much nicer" Scottish jail (2024)
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