Phishing gang stole £1 million from students, police say

Police have busted a phishing gang believed to have stolen £1 million ($1.54 million) from UK students by tricking them into revealing details of their educational loans.

Four unnamed men and two women suspected of being involved have now been arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud in London, Manchester and Bolton, police said.

The authorities became aware of the scam in August of this year after discovering that emails were being sent to students asking them to update the details of their student loans account using a “convincing but bogus website.”

Students falling for the con found that the thieves used the data to access their banks accounts, emptying it so sums ranging from £1,000 to £5,000 at a time.

Police have not revealed how many students fell for the phishing attack but the numbers must have been at least many hundreds to have resulted in fraud sums of £1 million plus mentioned by police.

"A great deal of personal information was compromised and cleverly exploited for substantial profits,” said detective inspector Mark Raymond of the Metropolitan Police’s Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU).

“We have today disrupted a suspected organised group of cyber criminals and prevented further loss to individuals and institutions in the UK. Today's arrests demonstrate what can be achieved when a partnership approach is adopted to investigate internet based crime," he said.

The case is a good example of the increasingly targeted nature of modern Internet crime, which picks on sometimes quite specific groups using social engineering.

The last student-themed Internet crime story on the PCeU’s books was that of a student accused of stealing gaming logins from Internet users earlier this year.

Beyond that, cases of Internet fraud brought by the PCeU seem to be on an upward curve. In October, the Metropolitan Police even went to the bother of quantifying the economic savings of the PCeU's crime-busting, which is claimed had reached £140 million for the previous six-month period.


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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