Around one hundred people have been arrested by the Metropolitan Police in the United Kingdom’s biggest-ever fraud operation. The Scotland Yard has also shut down iSpoof domains which served as a spoofing hub for scammers.
Reportedly, through that website, scammers stole tens of millions of pounds from British citizens through fake bank phone calls. The police stated that the website was used to defraud 200,000 Brits, and at least £50 million was stolen.
In June 2021, the Scotland Yard, European law enforcement agencies, and the FBI initiated an international investigation dubbed Operation Elaborate.
Authorities now plan to contact around 70,000 victims in Briton for the investigation. These individuals fell victim to the UK’s biggest scam campaign. An extensive probe revealed that scammers paid a subscription fee to iSpoof.cc and iSpoof.me for using its technology and phone victims impersonating staff members of reputed banks like Halifax, Barclays, and NatWest.
The fraudsters tricked people into giving their bank account credentials or transferring funds. Until August, they had made 10 million fake calls through iSpoof, and around 3.5 million calls were made in the UK, out of which 350,000 calls lasted over a minute.
Authorities in the USA and Ukraine helped Scotland Yard take down this website. As per the authorities, during the campaign, scammers sometimes contacted around twenty people every minute of the day using fake identities created through iSpoof.
The amount stolen from the victims is yet unknown, but authorities claim it is close to £50m. One of the victims suffered a loss of £3m, and another lost £10,000. Scammers earned around £3.2m within 20 months, investigators estimated.
For your information, the iSpoof website was set up in December 2020 to allow users to disguise their phone numbers and pretend to be a caller from a reputed organization, mainly a tax office or bank. Scammers paid the subscription fee in bitcoin.
🚨 Action against criminal website that offered ‘spoofing’ services to fraudsters leads to 142 arrests.
💶 The website is believed to have caused an estimated worldwide loss in excess of EUR 115 million.
Details ⤵️https://t.co/YmpYdv7Pym pic.twitter.com/u1LGcqjuBJ— Europol (@Europol) November 24, 2022
The website had around 59,000 users who paid subscriptions worth £150 and £5,000. The service was taken offline this week, and more than 100 suspects have been arrested, most of whom were residing in London. 40% of the victims were in the USA and 35% in Britain.
A British citizen and resident of east London, Teejai Fletcher, is suspected to be the mastermind of this scam campaign. The 34-year-old suspect was charged with fraud, participating in activities of an organized criminal group, and supplying/making articles used in fraud. The suspect is in police custody and will be presented before the court in two weeks.