A Morden man led a group of cyber-criminals into conning a church worker into sending them almost £100,000 after hacking into the organisation’s IT accounts.

The victim of the fraud believed she was carrying out the instructions of a senior official within the Oxfordshire-based church, not realising that the emails purporting to be from him contained an additional dot in the sender’s address.

Instead the money, which was due to be spent on a new community centre, ended up in the bank accounts of a number of ‘money mules’ – offenders who had provided others with access to their personal data in exchange for a cut of the proceeds.

At the top of the criminal enterprise was Isaac Andrews, 43, of Farm Road in Morden, who on Friday was jailed for three years after being found guilty of money laundering following a trial at Woolwich Crown Court.

The jury heard how seven transactions totalling £98,550 were made by the church between October 30 and November 12 2014.

Subsequent enquiries established that the money was transferred to two separate bank accounts before then being split up and forwarded to a number of others.

The investigation was adopted by detectives from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate when it was discovered that one of the original two accounts belonged to a Gravesend woman and had received £68,650.

Andrews was later identified as being the link between the money mules and the man responsible for the money laundering operation, resulting in his arrest on May 23, 2017.

Detective Sergeant Jon Saxby of the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate said: "Isaac Andrews was at the top of this criminal network and the main beneficiary of a scam that defrauded a church of almost £100,000.

"This was a lengthy and complex investigation that sends a clear message to criminals like Andrews that no matter how much time has passed or how clever you think you have been, your crimes will catch up with you in the end.

"Nationally there has been an emerging trend where offenders persuade vulnerable people or students to allow them to use their bank accounts, sometimes in exchange for a percentage of the cash sent to them.

"Whether the account owner benefits from the transaction or not, by making their account available they have become criminally involved in the money-laundering process. Ignorance is not an excuse and could land you before the courts."