Bitcoin records help the police capture 100+ criminals in UK’s biggest-ever fraud

Adeniyi Odukoya

The UK Metropolitan Police arrested roughly 100 hackers affiliated with a $50 million global “bank spoofing scam” on Thursday, November 24.

The cybercriminals were discovered by tracking down bitcoin records used to make payments for iSpoof’s services, enabling the Cyber Crime Unit of the UK Metropolitan Police to pin down suspects.

According to the report by the Police, over 200,000 potential victims in the UK have been thoroughly monitored and bookmarked via the fraud website iSpoof.

Bitcoin

iSpoof is a global one-stop spoofing store that the Metropolitan Police Department has now shut down. iSpoof was disbanded after generating roughly $3.9 million for scammers, according to a London police statement.

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The iSpoof scam

In the report released by the Metropolitan Police, over 200,000 potential victims have been directly identified through the fraud website iSpoof.

The conmen reached out to Crypto users, including but not limited to Bitcoin holders, identifying themselves as representatives of the following banks: Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, Natwest, Nationwide, and TSB. Then, at one point, these fraudsters posing as fake identities on the site targeted 20 people every minute of the day.

MET reported, “iSpoof enabled criminals to appear as if they were calling from banks, tax offices, and other official bodies as they attempted to defraud 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.”

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UK Metropolitan Police reinventing fraud investigation

The investigation was not conducted routinely by the UK Metropolitan Police. Instead, it was quite unconventional. Scotland Yard’s Cyber Crime Unit investigated a cross-national collaboration involving authorities in the U.S. and Ukraine to disassemble the site this week.

Helen Rance, who leads on cybercrime for the Met, said that by taking down the fraud platform, they have prevented further offences and stopped fraudsters from targeting future victims.

Meanwhile, Europol said that 142 suspects had been arrested during operations against the criminal website by judicial and law enforcement authorities in Europe, Australia, the US, Ukraine, and Canada.

The London force — the UK’s largest — said in the year to August, suspects paid to access the website and make more than 10 million fraudulent calls worldwide.

Around 40 per cent were in the United States. More than a third were in the UK, targeting 200,000 potential victims alone.

Fraud detection agencies have recorded £48 million ($58 million) in losses in the UK alone. Victims lost an average of £10,000. The largest single theft was worth three million pounds.

Losses to victims worldwide are estimated at over £100 million.

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“Because fraud is vastly under-reported, the full amount is believed to be much higher,” the Met said. Those behind the site earned almost £3.2 million from it, the force added. Only around 5,000 British victims have so far been identified.

The Cyber Crime Unit started investigating iSpoof in June 2021 and was able to track down the bitcoin records. With nearly 60,000 users on iSpoof, the investigation team pegged down suspects down to UK users who spent at least 100 worth of bitcoin on the site.

Commenting on the investigation, Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley stated: “The exploitation of technology by organized criminals is one of the greatest challenges for law enforcement in the 21st century.”

“Together with the support of partners across UK policing and internationally, we are reinventing the way fraud is investigated. The Met is targeting the criminals at the centre of these illicit webs that cause misery for thousands.” He added.

  


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