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Police to contact 70,000 people over UK's biggest ever fraud probe

Lucy Devine

Published 
| Last updated 

Police to contact 70,000 people over UK's biggest ever fraud probe

Police are set to get in touch with 70,000 people this week to warn them that they could have potentially been victims of one of the country's biggest ever scams.

Authorities are set to get in touch with victims via text message either today (24 November) or tomorrow (25 November) with a link to the Action Fraud website only. Any other messages should be deemed as fraudulent themselves.

The scam saw fraudsters use a website, ispoof.cc, to defraud up to 200,000 victims out of £50m. The website allowed scammers to use technology to pose as employees of leading banks such as Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, NatWest, Nationwide and TSB.

The devastating scam involved victims entering codes for their accounts into their phones, which scammers used to 'clear the accounts' of said victims.

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The website allowed scammers to use technology to pose as employees of leading banks. Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Alamy Stock Photo
The website allowed scammers to use technology to pose as employees of leading banks. Credit: Tero Vesalainen/Alamy Stock Photo

Some 59,000 fraudsters paid between £150 and £5,000 in subscriptions to the site to access the tech, targeting victims mainly based in the US and UK, as well as Australia and some other European countries.

Advertising the site to scammers, a video boasts: "Pick up the digits the targets type, and see it displayed on your dashboard.

"Send spoof SMS messages and much more... our state of the art system handles auto-calling with custom hold music and convincing call centre background sound."

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The website has now been taken down by the FBI.

Detective superintendent Helen Rance, from the Metropolitan Police's Cyber Crime unit, said fraudsters calling could be 'very convincing' when pretending to be phoning from banks.

"The person on the other end of the line can be very convincing," she said.

"This is an absolutely devastating crime for so many people. They must be worried, I really feel for them."

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She continued: "We are still making arrests today and tomorrow. This work will have prevented hundreds and thousands of online fraud crimes.

"Our message to criminals who have used this website is we have your details and are working hard to locate you, regardless of where you are."

The website has since been taken down by the Metropolitan Police. Credit: Metropolitan Police
The website has since been taken down by the Metropolitan Police. Credit: Metropolitan Police

During the investigation - which was launched as Operation Elaborate in June 2021 - police were able to obtain the phone numbers of victims, but not their names.

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For this reason, a text message will be sent to 70,000 victims on 24 and 25 November, directing them to the Action Fraud website.

Police have warned the text will only have links to the site and will only be sent across these two days.

LADbible has contacted the Metropolitan Police for further comment.

Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock/ken biggs/Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, UK News, Crime

Lucy Devine
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