Around 100 people have been arrested by the Metropolitan Police in the UK’s biggest ever fraud operation. Scotland Yard also shut down iSpoof domains that served as an impersonation hub for scammers.
There are reports that through this website, scammers have stolen tens of millions of pounds from UK citizens through fake bank phone calls. Police say the website was used to defraud 200,000 Britons and at least £50million was stolen.
In June 2021, Scotland Yard, European law enforcement and the FBI launched an international investigation dubbed Operation Elaborate.
Authorities now plan to contact around 70,000 victims in Britain for the investigation. These individuals have been victims of the UK’s largest scam campaign. A thorough investigation revealed that the scammers were paying subscription fees to iSpoof.cc and iSpoof.me for using its technology and phone victims posing as staff from reputable banks including Halifax, Barclays and NatWest.
Fraudsters tricked people into giving their bank account credentials or transferring funds. By August they had made 10 million fake calls through iSpoof, and around 3.5 million calls were made in the UK, of which 350,000 calls lasted longer than a minute.
US and Ukrainian authorities helped Scotland Yard take down this website. According to authorities, during the campaign, the scammers sometimes contacted as many as 20 people every minute of the day using fake identities created through iSpoof.
The amount stolen from the victims is still unknown, but authorities say it is close to £50million. One of the victims suffered a loss of £3million and another £10,000. The scammers made around £3.2million over 20 months, investigators have estimated.
For your information, the iSpoof website was created in December 2020 to allow users to hide their phone numbers and pretend to be a caller from a reputable organization, mainly a tax office or a bank. The scammers paid the subscription fee in bitcoin.
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 were arrested, most of whom resided in London. 40% of the victims were in the United States and 35% in Great Britain.
A British citizen and East London resident, Teejai Fletcher, is believed to be the mastermind of this scam campaign. The 34-year-old suspect has been charged with fraud, participating in the activities of an organized criminal group and supplying/manufacturing articles used in the fraud. The suspect is in custody and will appear in court in two weeks.