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Met 100 arrests in ‘biggest hoax ever’ to take spoof solicitation site off the air

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More than 100 people have been arrested in what the Met Police describe as the UK’s largest-ever fraud investigation.

The Corps led the bid to take down iSpoof, a “one-stop spoofing shop” that had more than 200,000 potential victims in this country alone.

The fraudsters contacted people posing as representatives of banks, including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, NatWest, Nationwide and TSB, before giving their details.

According to the Met, iSpoof allowed users who paid for the service in bitcoin to hide phone numbers to appear as if they were calling from a trusted source.

In the 12 months to August 2022, around 10 million spoofed calls have been made globally via iSpoof, with around 3.5 million in the UK.

“..the exploitation of technology by organized criminals is one of the greatest challenges facing law enforcement in the 21st century.

Commissioner, Mr Mark Rowley

Of these, 350,000 calls lasted longer than a minute and were addressed to 200,000 people.

The Met said it was approached by 20 people every minute of the day, hiding behind fake identities on the website.

The operation, which was led by Scotland Yard’s cybercrime unit, involved international law enforcement, Europol, Eurojust, Dutch authorities and the FBI, as well as other authorities in the US and Ukraine, to take the website offline this week.

Victims are said to have lost hundreds of millions of pounds, with 100 people arrested, most in the UK alone, on suspicion of fraud.

Detective Superintendent Helen Raines, who leads cybercrime for the Met, said: “By removing iSpoof, we have prevented further crimes and fraudsters from targeting future victims.

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“Our message to criminals using this website is that we have your information and we are working hard to find you wherever you are.”

Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: “The exploitation of technology by organized criminals is one of the greatest challenges facing law enforcement in the 21st century.

“With the support of UK police and international partners, we are reinventing the way we investigate fraud. The Met focuses on the criminals at the center of these illegal nets that bring misery to thousands of people.

“By removing the tools and systems that allow fraudsters to commit fraud at scale, this operation demonstrates our determination to crack down on corrupt individuals who often exploit vulnerable victims.”

Ladislav Hamran, President of Eurojust, said that “as cybercrime knows no borders, effective judicial cooperation between jurisdictions is essential to bring the perpetrators to justice.

Meanwhile, Catherine de Bole, Europol’s executive director, said the operation “has shown cybercriminals that they can no longer hide behind so-called international anonymity”.

Commander Nick Adams of the City of London Police, the national lead force for fraud, said “cooperative and proactive operations like these to tackle fraud are vital to tackle criminals and prevent innocent civilians from being targeted “. are important.” His hard earned money. ,

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