By Biodun Busari
Metropolitan police have arrested more than 100 suspected criminals in the United Kingdom’s biggest ever cyber-fraud operation.
Reports disclosed that more than 200,000 potential victims in the UK alone have been directly targeted through the fraud website called iSpoof.
BBC said at one stage, nearly 20 people every minute of the day were being contacted by fraudsters using fake identities through the site.
It said they appeared as agents 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 the National Crime Agency and authorities in the US and Ukraine, to dismantle the website this week.
iSpoof empowered criminals to pose as if they were calling from banks, tax offices and other official organisations as they attempted to swindle 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.
Europol Executive Director Ms Catherine De Bolle said: “The arrests today send a message to cybercriminals that they can no longer hide behind perceived international anonymity.
“Europol coordinated the law enforcement community, enriched the information picture and brought criminal intelligence into ongoing operations to target the criminals wherever they are located.
“Together with our international partners, we will continue to relentlessly push the envelope to bring criminals to justice.”
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, who leads cybercrime for the Met, said: “By taking down iSpoof we have prevented further offences and stopped fraudsters targeting future victims.
“Our message to criminals who have used this website is we have your details and are working hard to locate you, regardless of where you are.”
Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said: “The exploitation of technology by organised criminals is one of the greatest challenges for law enforcement in the 21st century.”