Six people have been arrested on suspicion of stealing credit cards, personal information and banking details as part of a suspected online banking fraud.
On Tuesday 3 and Wednesday 4 August 2010, officers from the Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), assisted by the MPS Territorial Support Group and the Irish Garda S?Âoch??na Fraud Investigation Bureau, executed five search warrants across London and at an address in Navan, County Meath, Ireland.
Five men and one woman, aged 25 to 40, were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to commit online banking fraud and Computer Misuse Act offences. They all currently remain in custody at a central London police station whilst inquiries are ongoing.
The arrests are part of Operation Dynamophone, an investigation by the PCeU into a network of suspects believed to have systematically obtained large quantities of personal information, such as online bank account passwords and credit card numbers. The network is suspected of using online phishing in order to steal money from those accounts and use credit card details fraudulently. The offenses have been committed almost entirely online.
Inquiries indicate that more than 10,000 online bank accounts and 10,000 credit cards have been compromised. Attempted bank account take-over fraud amounting to approximately £1.14 million has been identified with £358,000 stolen successfully. The total amount stolen using compromised credit cards has yet to be established, but by using the industry agreed standard formula is estimated to be worth more than £3 million.
The online scam is believed to have stemmed from the gang sending large quantities of unsolicited spam emails, directing unsuspecting victims to spoof web sites, purporting to be legitimate online banking sites. Once victims reached the site, they were lured into providing their banking passwords and other personal information. This information was used by the suspected fraudsters to then unlawfully enter the victims’ online bank accounts and transfer funds. Credit card details were obtained and exploited in the same way. The full extent of this network’s profit has yet to be established.
Detective Inspector Colin Wetherill, from the PCeU, said: “We have taken this action to shut down an organised criminal network running an online phishing and account take-over operation. A great deal of personal information was compromised and cleverly exploited for substantial profit. By disrupting the operation we have hopefully prevented further loss to individuals and institutions across the UK.
“We are working to reduce the harm caused by organised criminals operating online and to bring to justice those committing these offences. However, we all have a role to play in protecting our personal information and I would urge the public to exercise great care when supplying their personal details online and to take the advice given at www.getsafeonline.org.”