Intelligence Analyst Tipped-off Suspects of Operation Venetic
According to the National Crime Agency (NCA), 24-year-old Natalie Mottram was working as an intelligence analyst for NWROCU during Operation Venetic investigations. Mottram shared information with EncroChat users who continued to use the platform after learning that it had been compromised.
Operation Venetic took place in 2020 and was based on information acquired from the hack of EncroChat, a now-defunct encrypted communications platform, by Dutch and French authorities. The hack gave Law enforcement agencies worldwide access to messages sent and received by EncroChat users.
At the early stages of the operation, the investigators reportedly established that they had a leak. The investigators later established that Mottram had told 38-year-old Jonathan Kay, about the operation.
On April 24, 2020, an unnamed friend of Kay messaged another EncroChat user and told them that he had learned that the platform had been hacked by LE.
The unnamed suspect also messaged a second suspect and said,
I no a lady who works for the police. This is not hearsay. Direct to me. They can access Encro software. And are using to intercept forearms only at the moment. There software runs 48 hours behind real time. So have ur burns one day max. And try to avoid giving postcodes over it. Her words was are you on Encro, I said no why, I only sell a bit of bud. She said cool just giving you heads up. Because NCA now have access. But she wouldn’t lie.
On June 12, 2020, the investigators placed Mottram under surveillance after asking her to analyze false intelligence on Kay.
The investigators observed Mottram go to Kay's home where she allegedly told him that he was being investigated. Kay's wife then called the unnamed suspect's partner. Kay and the man met later at a car park and talked for 20 minutes.
The investigators arrested the suspects later that day and seized £200,000 in cash from Kay's house.
Analysis of phone records revealed that on April 21, Mottram and Kay met at Kay's home. They allegedly spent two hours together. Kay called the unnamed suspect later that day.
Further investigations revealed that Mottram went to Kay's home again on April 24. Computer records revealed she was working on Operation Venetic while at the residence. Kay and the unnamed suspect spoke on the phone again later that day.
Mottram pleaded guilty to misconduct in public office, perverting the course of justice and unauthorized access to computer material at Liverpool Crown Court, on August 18, 2023. Kay pleaded guilty to perverting the course of justice at an earlier hearing.
The duo will be sentenced on November 3.