A CYBER criminal nicknamed the Black Dragon has been jailed for three and a half years after being caught trying to pull off a £6.5million heist against the UN.

Matthew Beddoes, 32, who advertised his hacking services online, created a rogue computer programme called Zeus to access the UN’s central registry in Bonn, Germany, to try to steal about £3.4million worth of carbon credits.

He then made a £3.1million Spanish attempt, which was discovered but not before about £76,000 was transferred from Spain’s EU Emissions Allowances and sold to BP.

Kingston-upon-Thames Crown Court heard that Beddoes, who formerly lived in Tidworth and ran a computer security firm called Alladin Technologies, had been hacking since he was a teenager.

His lawyer, Mark Cotter, said Beddoes had been approached online by Jasdeep Randhawa and Jandeep Sangha, both from Leicester, to come up with a programme to get into the UN computers and had seen it as “a new challenge”.

“It came as an enormous surprise to him that it ultimately did work,”

he said. “He did not think in a million years that anyone would open the email and the attachment, particularly in an organisation like the United Nations.”

Beddoes, who now lives in Telford, Shropshire, admitted six counts of conspiring to do unauthorised acts, with intent to impair computer programmes, four counts of unauthorised access to business computers, three counts of possessing electronic files containing credit card information, and one count of acquiring criminal property.

When he was arrested he was found in possession of 3,000 credit card numbers, 500 email addresses of potential “phishing” scam victims and he had accessed the computers of HSBC, Virgin, LloydsTSB and other companies.

Randhawa, 38, of Aber Road, Leicester, was jailed for 21 months after admitting conspiring to secure unauthorised access to computers and conspiring to impair computer programmes.

Sangha, 28, of New Street, Leicester, was handed a 12-month jail term suspended for two years, fined £1,000 and ordered to complete 120 hours’ community service after admitting to conspiring to disguise criminal property and acquiring criminal property.