Police say over 200,000 UK scam victims may be linked to iSpoof website


Police in London say they have shut down a website called iSpoof, smashing an international fraud operation that may have scammed more than 200,000 people in the UK.

Victims lost tens of millions of pounds, with those running iSpoof believed to have earned £3.2 million ($3.88 million) in 20 months, according to the London Metropolitan Police.

Losses from iSpoof calls reported to Action Fraud totaled £48m ($58m), which is believed to be an underestimate of the actual losses incurred.

Over 100 people have been arrested in the UK, most on suspicion of fraud.

The Met said it reached out to more than 70,000 phone numbers that were contacted by one of the iSpoof suspects.

According to Scotland Yard, the criminals posed as employees of Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyd’s, Halifax, First Direct, NatWest, Nationwide and TSB and called unsuspecting people.

iSpoof, which has been in operation since June 2021, allows police to make it look like criminals are calling from banks, tax offices, and other public authorities. This is a technique known as “spoofing”.

The London Metropolitan Police Cyber ​​Crime Unit, working with the Dutch and Ukrainian FBI, Eurojust and law enforcement agencies, took down the website this week.

Earlier this month, a man believed to be running iSpoof was arrested in East London. He has been indicted and imprisoned for many crimes.

It was the culmination of what Metropolitan Airlines called an elaborate operation.

“By eliminating iSpoof, we have prevented further crime and stopped scammers targeting future victims,” said Superintendent Helen Rance, the Met’s cybercrime lead, on Thursday.

“One of the biggest challenges for law enforcement”

Sir Mark Rowley, Commissioner of the London Metropolitan Police, said, “The misuse of technology by organized criminals is one of the greatest challenges for law enforcement in the 21st century.”

He added: The Met targets criminals at the heart of these illegal webs that plague thousands of people. ”

According to the Met, scammers use iSpoof to spoof their phone numbers and make it look like they’re calling from a trusted organization such as a bank. Scammers paid iSpoof operators in cryptocurrency.

The scammers then called people and tried to trick them into giving them money or giving PINs and passcodes to their bank accounts.

When successful, scammers earned an average of £10,000 ($12,100) per call.

According to police, 10 million fraudulent calls were made using iSpoof worldwide, 3.5 million of them in the UK.

Epoch Times photo
A screengrab of a video of a man arrested by Metropolitan Police officers as part of an elaborate operation in east London in November 2022. (Metropolitan Police)

Investigators said more than 200,000 people were targeted in the UK and text messages were sent to thousands of victims, many of whom were unaware they had been duped.

According to Met, the iSpoof website servers contained 70 million rows of data and thousands of Bitcoin records.

There are 59,000 suspects, they said, prioritizing UK-based scammers and those who have spent at least £100 ($120) in bitcoin on iSpoof.

Suspect details have also been shared with law enforcement partners in the Netherlands, France, Australia and the Republic of Ireland.

London Police Commander Nick Adams said: “This kind of cooperative and proactive approach to fraud tackles fraud to crack down on criminals and prevent innocent civilians from being targeted with their hard-earned money. Activity is very important.”

Last month, a panel of parliamentarians recommended the establishment of a special economic court to tackle the “scam epidemic” in the UK.

in their rReport (pdf) They said: Out of the 20,000 new police officers recruited, only 380 will be deployed to deal with fraud. ”

The report also said, “Fraud is now prevalent in England and Wales. There is no sign of a reversal in the upward trend as we emerge from the pandemic.”

The committee, chaired by Conservative MP Bob Neill, said, “If governments are serious about their ambition to reduce fraud, they should: We need to allocate sufficient resources within the police budget.” prevent these crimes from happening. ”

The iSpoof scam is a type of so-called boiler room scam in which criminals pose as stockbrokers or financial advisors and call unsuspecting people to offer them a “unique opportunity” to invest in things that usually have very high returns. Offers.

Chris Summers

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Chris Summers is a UK-based journalist with a wide range of national coverage, with a particular interest in crime, police and law.