An international one stop spoofing shop, which enabled criminals to appear as if they were calling from banks, tax offices and other official bodies, has been taken down in the UK’s biggest ever fraud operation.
More than 200,000 potential victims in the UK alone have been directly targeted through the fraud website iSpoof.
At one stage, almost 20 people every minute of the day were being contacted by scammers hiding behind false identities using the site.
They posed as representatives of banks including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, Natwest, Nationwide and TSB.
Scotland Yard’s Cyber Crime Unit worked with international law enforcement, including authorities in the US and Ukraine, to dismantle the website this week.
iSpoof enabled criminals to appear as if they were calling from banks, tax offices and other official bodies as they attempted to defraud victims.
Victims are believed to have lost tens of millions of pounds while those behind the site earned almost £3.2 million in one 20 month period. The website is believed to have caused an estimated worldwide loss in excess of £100 million. Losses reported to Action Fraud as a result of the calls and texts via iSpoof is around £48 million. The average loss from those who reported being targeted is believed to be £10,000.
The Met is texting more than 70,000 numbers contacted via iSpoof and linked to an identified suspect.
Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley says: “The exploitation of technology by organised criminals is one of the greatest challenges for law enforcement in the 21st century. By taking away the tools and systems that have enabled fraudsters to cheat innocent people at scale, this operation shows how we are determined to target corrupt individuals intent on exploiting often vulnerable victims.”
The Met’s Cyber and Economic Crime Units co-coordinated the operation with Europol, Eurojust, the Dutch authorities and the FBI.
In the UK, more than 100 people have been arrested, the vast majority on suspicion of fraud.