Police have arrested 142 people as part of a global operation to take down “iSpoof,” an online spoofing service that allowed cybercriminals to disguise their phone numbers as belonging to a trusted organization.
Operation Detailed was launched in June 2021 and involved Scotland Yard, EU law enforcement agencies, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation and police forces in Ukraine and Australia. It targeted scammers who allegedly stole £43 million ($52 million) from British citizens and more than £100 million ($121 million) worldwide through bogus bank calls.
Those behind the scam would call potential victims and pose as employees of banks such as Halifax, Barclays Bank plc and National Westminster Bank plc. Scammers will attempt to trick potential victims into handing over money or sensitive information that can be used to access bank accounts.
ISpoof gets into the mix because scammers used the service to hide their phone numbers so they could call directly from the bank itself.
The scale of the spoofing operation is quite remarkable. Authorities believe that in the 12 months to August 2022, around 10 million spoofed calls were made globally using iSpoof, with around 3.5 million to the UK, with 350,000 calls lasting longer than a minute. Come on, an estimated 70,000 people potentially fall for spoofing calls.
Most of the arrests were made in the UK, with more than 100 suspects charged with the fraud, including the alleged owner of iSpoof in east London. Dutch police also seized a server used to run the service and arrested two people who allegedly maintain the service.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement said in a press release: “The website’s services allow people who sign up for the service to make anonymous spoof calls, send recorded messages and intercept passwords for once.” “Users could impersonate any number of entities (such as banks, retailers, and government agencies) for financial gain and significant harm to victims.”
The main iSpoof website is now offline, with a message (pictured) replacing the now shut down service.