London police arrest 35 during four-day crackdown on cyber criminals

Source: Metropolitan Police Service

A 16-year-old believed to have carried out hundreds of cyber attacks on businesses, and a family of suspected fraudsters are among 35 people arrested by the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) during a nationwide campaign to bring down cyber criminals.

Around 100 officers from the MPS's new cyber crime and fraud team FALCON, the Territorial Support Group (TSG) and local police teams made the arrests, in coordinated activity by the National Crime Agency (NCA) and police services across the UK this week.

Beginning on Tuesday, 3 March, MPS officers executed a number search warrants at addresses across London.

They recovered evidence including laptops, mobile phones and financial documents, and seized approximately £7,000 cash under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA).

The arrests were made for conspiracy to defraud, Computer Misuse Act offences, immigration offences, fraud by abuse of position, possession of drugs, fraud by false representation, money laundering, robbery and theft.

They relate to a wide variety of cyber-enabled crimes.

Officers from FALCON's Cyber Crime Unit investigating hundreds of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on business and host websites based in London and the UK arrested a 16-year-old boy in Leeds on suspicion of Computer Misuse Act offences on Tuesday.

DDoS attacks often involve thousands of malware-infected computers simultaneously sending countless requests to a single computer hosting a website, so that it is overloaded and is effectively removed from the web. It can cause businesses great financial loss.

The boy was subsequently bailed to return to a police station on a date in early June 2015.

Detectives from FALCON East Hub, which investigates high-volume cyber crime and fraud impacting specific boroughs, arrested three family members after a 68-year-old woman from Tonbridge, Kent was defrauded of over £50,000.

On 26 October 2014, the victim received a call from a man claiming to be from her bank. The suspect told her that her bank account had been compromised and convinced her to transfer her life savings into another account. The suspect then transferred the money into numerous other accounts online, from which it was withdrawn.

On Tuesday, the FALCON East Hub, assisted by the TSG, executed two search warrants at residential addresses on Levine Road, Barking and Dod Street in Poplar, where they recovered numerous cash withdrawal receipts, a number of laptops and mobiles phones.

The three members of the same family were arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation. A man and woman, both 28, were arrested at the address in Barking and a man aged 30 was arrested at the address in Poplar. They have all been bailed.

It is believed that some of the money was spent on buying a house worth £175,000, in the borough of Barking and Dagenham.

The FALCON Taskforce - a proactive unit investigating organised crime groups - and detectives from the FALCON regional hubs also carried out a covert operation targeting online retail fraud, in partnership with Shop Direct.

Retail fraud involves fraudsters hacking into customers' online shopping accounts and ordering goods in their name.

Instead of having the items delivered to the customer's address, they arranged for it to be dropped off at a different location.

On Tuesday, the units arrested a 30-year-old from Havering, on suspicion of fraud who was bailed to return on a date in early May.

They also arrested Michael Awotunde, 28, (19.04.86) of Claremont Road, Havering.

He was subsequently charged with one count of fraud by false representation and possession of Class B drugs (cannabis), to which he pleaded guilty on Wednesday, 4 March, at Camberwell Magistrates' Court.

He was sentenced to a conditional discharge.

The MPS is also opening its first cyber security pop-up shop at Westfield shopping centre today, Friday, 6 March - an initiative to help technology users of all ages stay safe online. The shop will be open between 10:00hrs to 16:00hrs.

Members of public can drop in for advice on staying safe online experts based in FALCON, the London Digital Security Centre, Action Fraud, the banking industry and cyber security firms.

FALCON's Detective Superintendent Jayne Snelgrove, said: "Our activity this week epitomises what FALCON is all about. We've worked with businesses, victims and our partners across the UK to tackle a wide range of cyber crime.

"FALCON's number one priority is to make the web a safer environment for people and businesses in London. This week is just a flavour of the work we are carrying out every week to achieve exactly that. We are arresting the perpetrators and showing potential victims how to stay safe."

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