The Metropolitan Police Department has announced that six people have been arrested over a £1m online phishing scam, whereby a criminal network targeted students on government loan schemes, hacking their bank account details and then withdraw amounts of between £1,000 and £5,000 at a time, writes David Batty at the Guardian.
The student victims claim that they received emails from the scammers who masqueraded as from a legitimate governmental body, asking them to update their details on their student bank accounts. They were then led to a bogus website via a link in the email, and it is from there the bank details of hundreds of students were stored and subsequently hacked.
This is a classic case of âphishing' – an internet crime that is increasingly on the rise. It usually involves spam emails being sent to people pretending that there has been a "security update" to their bank, credit card, online shop or similar system. The fake pages that the victims are then led to are usually very well crafted imitations of standard, well-known pages, for a example an Amazon or eBay page, but it it hosted on a hacked server or PC.
Scotland Yard's e-crime unit launched an investigation after being alerted in the summer, and this week have announced that they have seized computers and other equipment from addresses in London, Manchester and Bolton.
"A great deal of personal information was compromised and cleverly exploited for substantial profits. We have today disrupted a suspected organized group of cyber criminals and prevented further loss to individuals and institutions in the UK.
"Today's arrests demonstrate what can be achieved when a partnership approach is adopted to investigate internet-based crime."
The suspects – a 26 year-old man and a 25 year-old woman from Manchester, a 25 year-old man from Deptford, south London, a 49 year-old woman and a 31 year-old man from Stratford, north-east London, and a 38 year-old man in Bolton – were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, money laundering and Computer Misuse Act offenses, were being held at police stations in central London, Manchester and Bolton.
The Students Loan Company, the banking industry and internet service provider, assisted the police in their investigation.