UK police have arrested 12 men accused of plotting to take control of a Santander bank branch computer and use it to steal millions of pounds.
The "audacious" plan involved fitting a keyboard video mouse device to a computer at the Santandner branch in Surrey Quays shopping centre, says the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU).
The device would have enabled the gang to transmit the complete desktop contents of the branch computer over the network, in effect, giving them control of the bank systems remotely.
The 12 men were arrested yesterday in connection with allegations of conspiracy to steal and are currently in custody at London police station. Searches have been carried out at addresses within Westminster, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Brent and Richmond, and also in Slough, where property has been seized.
The PCeU says that the arrests come after a long-term, intelligence-led investigation in cooperation with the banking sector, "thwarting a very significant and audacious cyber-enabled offence, and avoiding multi-million-pound losses".
Santander says it co-operated with the police throughout the investigation and was aware of the possibility of the attack connected to the arrests.
"The attempt to fit the device to the computer in the Surrey Quays Branch was undertaken by a bogus maintenance engineer pretending to be from a third party," says the bank in a statement. "It failed and no money was ever at risk. No member of Santander staff was involved in this attempted fraud. We are pleased that we have been able, through the robustness of our systems, to prevent the fraud and help the police gather the evidence they needed to make the arrests."