A Liverpool fraudster stole almost half a million pounds to fund a “luxury lifestyle” – splashing out on fast cars, luxury watches and diamond rings.

James Molloy, 29, of Eaglehurst Road, Gateacre pilfered the money from an Australian business after hacking into their account and transferring it to his own bank account.

The “greedy and foolish” man was arrested last month at Liverpool’s passport office as he tried to apply for travel documents in another name and detectives uncovered the extent of his crimes.

Police raided homes, seizing cash and stolen goods linked to Molloy, and CCTV was taken from luxury stores like Harrods, Porsche, De Beers and Prestons showing him spending the ill-gotten gains before he was brought to justice.

He was jailed for two years and eight months at Southwark Crown Court where he pleaded guilty to nine charges of converting criminal property.

The investigation into his crime was carried out by the City of London’s Money Laundering and Investigation Unit (MLIU).

How did he do it?

In July of last year, Molloy opened a National Australian Bank (NAB) personal account using his own British passport and UK driving license as identification.

Three months later NAB were “alerted to a malware infection” and AU$711,757.20 had been debited from Australian business account UXC Connect Pay Limited and credited to the personal account opened by Molloy.

That is the equivalent today of £411,000.

What was the money spent on?

The money was used to fund Molloy’s luxurious lifestyle, spending money on expensive cars and jewellery in Surrey and West London.

In October, the money was spent on high-value items and the account was entirely emptied of its funds.

He bought a number of Rolex watches, a diamond engagement ring for £37,900 and a number of items in department store Harrods, including two Chanel handbags priced at £4,380 and £3,780 and ‘Billionaire’ clothing to the value of £5,385.

He also tried to buy a Mercedes E220D AMG for £43,250, an Audi Q5 for £36,974, a BMW 440i M Sport for £34,550, a Porsche Cayenne for £102,000 and a Volkswagen Golf GTI for £33,900, but after being contacted by NAB, the retailers did not release them.

How was Molloy caught by police?

On October 27, a raid was carried out by officers in St Albans, where one of the Chanel handbags purchased in Harrods and £26,000 in cash were seized.

Attempts were then made to arrest Molloy at his partner’s address in Liverpool on the same day. He was spoken to on the phone but refused to hand himself in.

A mobile phone was seized and found to contain communication from Molloy, linking him to the use of the NAB bank card.

There was also a screenshot of transactions made using the card as well as photographs of the Rolex watches that had been purchased.

Molloy was captured on March 24 at the passport office in Liverpool, where he was in the process of applying for a passport in another name.

How long was he jailed for?

He was sentenced to two years and eight months at Southwark Crown Court after an investigation by the City of London’s Money Laundering and Investigation Unit (MLIU).

Molloy pleaded guilty to nine charges of converting criminal property.

Three people – a female aged 27, and a male aged 26, from Hertfordshire and a male from Surrey – have also been arrested in relation to this crime and the investigation is ongoing.

Detective Inspector John Ellis said: “Motivated by money and greed, Molloy’s foolish actions have been exposed and we hope today’s sentencing serves as a warning to others.

“I would like to thank the Australian Federal Police for their co-operation and involvement in the case.

“We are committed to putting a stop to money laundering and recovering the proceeds of crime. This case highlights the point that justice will be served to those who commit crime.”