The UK's recently-formed Police Central E-crime Unit (PCeU) has made its first arrests, in cooperation with a "virtual task force" that includes members of the financial services industry. Nine suspects were arrested in southeast London yesterday in connection with money laundering, computer misuse and conspiracy to defraud using malware designed to compromise online bank accounts.
The nine suspects, four females and five males all under the age of 30, are believed to be part of an eastern European criminal network that has been planting malware designed to steal online bank account details on servers across Europe hosting legitimate websites.
A Metropolitan Police spokesperson said that several of the group have been charged this morning, and that they are allegedly responsible for orchestration of the fraud, and not just acting as "money mules" transferring and withdrawing the funds from compromised accounts.
She confirms that the virtual task force includes "a fair few of the major UK banks", who have signed a memorandum of understanding that formalises speedy intelligence sharing between security and anti-fraud managers at banks and the new police unit. The aim is to reduce response times to tip-offs about online attacks from several weeks to 24-48 hours.
The PCeU was formed in September last year, with £7.4 million in funding over three years. Its head, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams, called for more funding earlier this year. The unit has also announced that it is working closely with e-bay to share intelligence on online fraud.
Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson from the Virtual Task Force says the key stakeholders from the financial services industry and police "have established a unique open sharing of intelligence, relating to specific criminal activity."
"The expertise and knowledge sharing with ... the banking and financial industry has been combined with conventional policing methods to create a coordinated and sustained fast time response to e-crime and the most up to date in computer forensics."