Soca details its battles against cybercriminals

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has revealed details of two major cyber crime cases and completed an overhaul of its IT systems to meet its operational needs.

In its annual report, the intelligence-led agency – formerly the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit – revealed that its operations had saved millions of pounds which could have potentially been stolen through e-crime, thanks to its work on two major cyber crime cases.

SOCA led the UK end of a long term FBI undercover operation against online criminal forum DarkMarket, one of the largest websites dealing in stolen financial information such as credit card data.

The operation led to the arrest of 57 suspects, including 12 in the UK, plus arrests in Turkey, Germany, and the US. One prosecution was successfully brought against Nigerian national Adewale Taiwo, who received five years for conspiracy to defraud.

The report revealed that the successful operation saved $70m (£45m) in potential losses. SOCA had so far recovered over 16,000 compromised cards, with forensic work still underway.

Soca also brought to trial the high-profile attempted £229 million bank robbery of Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in London, one of the biggest bank heists ever attempted.

Five men received sentences of between three and eight years for their attempt. Through an insider at the bank, the gang attempted to make 21 money transfers over the financial network Swift, moving the money to a number of recipient accounts based in Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Hong Kong and Singapore. But, due to a mistake in the messages the transactions were unsuccessful and no money was transferred.

The investigation unravelled the "complex web" of companies and accounts which had been set up to launder money, as well as catch the "insider" and two other members of the gang who had escaped arrest, through circulating CCTV footage in Europe.

Soca says about £1.5m in assets was restrained and will be the subject of further action under the Proceeds of Crime Act.

Soca's annual report also revealed it completed a major overhaul to its IT systems to improve data handling and meet operational requirements.

"In June 2008 Soca established its information management programme, under which the planned IT improvements for 2008/09 were delivered to time and budget, ensuring that all staff who needed it had appropriate access to Soca’s core operational systems, and that the necessary in-year investments in systems and processes for Soca’s longer-term effectiveness were made," it says.

SOCA deals with the more serious organised side of e-crime, while the Police e-Crime Unit now deals with smaller scale fraud activity in Britain.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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