Lawyers litigated like “a game of chess” to ensure a £300,000 gold bullion hacker paid back just £1 of his ill-gotten gains.

Mr A was embroiled in a conspiracy which saw hackers obtain a bullion company’s sensitive customer data.

Viruses effectively shut down the firm’s computers and sent messages to managers threatening: “I am in control of your company.”

“I am now in control of your future profits…I am now in control of your future reputation think very carefully before you make silly choices,” the warning added.

The hackers demanded cash in exchange for the stolen client data – and threatened to sell the information to a rival, potentially destroying its reputation.

The criminals were also able to make off with £300,000 in gold bars after diverting them to new addresses. They also placed bogus orders through the company and made off with another £150,000 in gold and silver.

Mr A was rounded by when police cyber crime experts carried out an extensive forensic and technical probe into the heist.

Stuart Miller Solicitors was instructed to minimise damage to Mr A and secure the best outcome over the sophisticated hack. Not only did he face prison – but he also faced court proceedings to determine how much of his criminal gains were available to pay back.

A spokesman said: “Our cyber fraud lawyers, adept in confiscation proceedings, were well aware that a guilty plea would result in our client not only receiving a significant time in prison, but also a huge financial confiscation order.”

The firm’s lawyers advised Mr A to admit his guilt on a basis of plea – where it is accepted that a crime has occurred but in circumstances different to those alleged by the prosecution.

A judge accepted Mr A’s account of his involvement was truthful and handed down a suspended jail sentence – and a confiscation order of just £1.

The spokesman said: “Our cyber lawyers litigate every case like a game of chess, and with that in mind, put in place a basis of plea  which significantly reduced the scope of our client’s involvement.

“It also negated the possibility of the prosecution pursuing a huge financial confiscation order that would have crippled our client financially.”

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