Police are sending text messages to 70,000 people who may have fallen victim to phone scammers


Image: Getty/Enes Evren

Police are sending text messages to more than 70,000 people to warn them that they have fallen victim to online banking scams and instruct them on how to act.

The messages are being sent by the Metropolitan Police as part of the UK’s biggest ever anti-fraud crackdown, following an international operation to shut down a crime service network. The campaign, led by the Met and involving law enforcement agencies in Europe, Australia, the United States, Ukraine and Canada, resulted in the arrest of 142 cybercrime suspects.

Those arrested are suspected of being involved in the implementation of scams in which they pose as representatives of banks – including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, Natwest, Nationwide and TSB – and trick victims into handing over money or a one-time passcode to access a bank account.

The scammers used a website called iSpoof, which allowed them to disguise their phone numbers so it looked like they were calling from a trusted source – this was called a phishing attack. pose.

Criminals try to trick people into handing over money or providing sensitive information, such as transferring a one-time code to a bank account. In the 12 months to August 2022, approximately 10 million phishing calls were made globally through iSpoof, of which about 3.5 million were made in the UK. Of those, 350,000 calls lasted more than a minute and were made to 200,000 individuals. The 70,000 people contacted are connected to calls made by individuals known to the police, according to BBC.

Also: How to keep your banking and financial details safer online

Based on fraudulent actattacks cost each victim an average of £10,000 and Europeworldwide damage amounted to more than 100 million pounds (115 million euros).

Most of the arrests related to spoofing have been made in the UK, with more than 100 suspects being changed by fraud.

The arrests follow an operation led by the Met’s Cybercrime Unit, which began in June 2021, in which investigators breached the website and gathered information about users. website cybercriminals. The site is now closed and confiscated.

“By taking down iSpoof, we’ve prevented further offenses and prevented scammers from targeting future victims,” ​​said Detective Chief Helen Rance, cybercrime leader of the Metropolitan Police said.

“Our message to criminals who have used this site is that we have your details and are working hard to find you, wherever you are,” she added.

Also: My stolen credit card details have been used 4,500 miles. I tried to find out how it happened

The force is sending text messages to the tens of thousands of victims they have identified to tell them they have fallen victim to scammers and to report the incident to Action Fraud. We also recommend that anyone who thinks they are the victim of a scam should contact their bank and contact the police.

Europol helped coordinate the operation and information about the attackers was shared with investigators around the world.

Europol chief executive Catherine De Bolle said: “Today’s arrests send a message to cybercriminals that they can no longer hide behind international anonymity.”

She added: “Together with our international partners, we will continue our relentless efforts to bring criminals to justice.



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