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How Scotland Yard took down iSpoof in UK’s biggest ever fraud investigation

  • November 25, 2022

More than 100 people have been arrested in the UK’s biggest ever fraud investigation into what the Metropolitan Police described as “an international one-stop spoofing shop”.

The Met began investigating the iSpoof website in June 2021. The site allowed users, who paid for iSpoof’s services in bitcoin, to make it look as though calls they made to individuals were coming from trusted sources, including “banks, tax offices and other official bodies as they attempted to defraud victims”. 

iSpoof “turned ordinary crooks into cyber criminals”, said The Sun, using “slick videos to advertise would-be lawbreakers through encrypted messaging apps”. The website was set up in December 2020 and amassed 59,000 user accounts. 

The Met’s Operation Elaborate involved the National Crime Agency, Europol, Eurojust, Dutch authorities and the FBI working with Scotland Yard’s cyber crime unit. The investigation found that around 10 million fraudulent phone calls were made through iSpoof globally in the 12 months from August 2021; just over a third of those were made in the UK. 

With more than 200,000 potential victims in the UK alone, people are thought to have lost millions of pounds overall. The Met said that the average loss from people who have reported being targeted is thought to be £10,000, while “one victim was scammed out of £3m”, said The Guardian. The paper added that “those running the scam shop made about £3.2m over a 20-month period, it is estimated”.

Met Commissioner Mark Rowley described “the exploitation of technology by organised criminals” as “one of the greatest challenges for law enforcement in the 21st century”. Working with international partners, Rowley said UK police “are reinventing the way fraud is investigated”. 

Police are asking anyone who thinks they have been contacted as part of a spoof number scam to make a report online through Action Fraud.

Article source: https://www.theweek.co.uk/news/crime/958634/how-scotland-yard-took-down-ispoof

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