Met Police arrest man in 'counterfeit card' sting

The Metropolitan Police Force's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU) has smashed a suspected "money mule" and counterfeit credit card operation.

During dawn raids in East Ham, east London yesterday (Monday), PCeU officers arrested a 34-year-old man suspected of organising money 'mules' to open what are called drop accounts, in order to launder the proceeds of online crimes abroad. He was taken into custody at a central London police station.

The sting was announced during this week's National Identity Fraud Prevention Week (18-23 October).

The investigation uncovered equipment believed to be used for manufacturing payment cards, which police think were being prepared to have details taken from stolen identities encoded onto them, to create "cloned" cards.

Officers searched a terraced house in Southend Road, East Ham and seized digital data which officers are in the process of examining. A number of blank cards with magnetic strips were also seized.

Detective inspector Paul Hoare from the PCeU said: "Money Mules are one of the key enablers for all types of fiscal fraud and internet-based crime in particular. This arrest reinforces our commitment to combating suspected money 'muling' in both London and across the UK."

DI Hoare warned: "Individuals tempted by advertised job opportunities moving money using their bank accounts should not get involved as they could be taking part in wider organised money laundering crimes."

The latest action follows a spate of arrests in the UK, US and Ukraine in one of the largest coordinated computer crime actions by law enforcement.Last month, British police arrested 11 Eastern Europeans allegedly involved in money laundering related to the Zeus online banking malware. US officials charged 92 people with crimes related to Zeus and Ukrainian authorities detained five people.

Metropolitan Police officials were not immediately available to confirm if the man was involved in Zeus-related activities.

Additional reporting by Jeremy Kirk

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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