The UK's National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) has arrested 12 people suspected of conning online banking customers out of 'hundreds of thousands of pounds' through phishing scams.
According to press reports, the suspects, who are all Eastern European, were arrested at addresses in London and Ramsgate in Kent. Police seized computers, passports, chequebooks and bank cards along with a quantity of cocaine.
Police suspect the twelve were recruited by organised crime syndicates in Russia and used as 'mules' to transfer stolen funds out of the country.
The arrest is the second in a week by the NHTCU for phishing, in which online banking customers are deceived into entering security details at bogus Web sites. Last week the unit arrested a 21-year old man in connection with a scam which tried to trick customers of Web bank Smile into revealing online passwords.
The arrests come as anti-spam outfit Brightmail reports a ten-fold increase in the volume of fraudulent e-mails over the past nine months. The company saw more than 3.1 billion fraudulent spam e-mails last month - five per cent of all Internet e-mail worldwide. In August 2003, Brightmail recorded 300 million fraudulent spams.