NEW DELHI: The judicial and law enforcement authorities of Europe, Australia, the United States, Ukraine, and Canada have taken down a website that enabled cybercriminals to impersonate trusted corporations or contacts in order to gain access to sensitive information from victims. This type of cybercrime is known as “spoofing.” The website is alleged to have caused an estimated global loss of more than 100 million British pounds (EUR 115 million).
In a joint operation headed by the United Kingdom and assisted by Europol and Eurojust, 142 people, including the website’s administrator, have been arrested.
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HOW THE SPOOFING SITE WAS OPERATING
Those who registered and paid for the website’s services were able to conduct faked calls, send recorded messages, and intercept one-time passwords anonymously. The users were able to mimic an endless number of entities (including banks, retail companies, and government institutions) for their own financial advantage and the victims’ considerable detriment.
The investigations revealed that the website generated more than EUR 3.7 million in sixteen months. According to UK authorities, losses to victims currently total £43 million (€49 million), with global losses anticipated to exceed £100 million (EUR 115 million).
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142 users and administrators of the website were detained throughout the world in November 2022 as part of a coordinated international operation. On November 6, the primary administrator of the website was detained in the United Kingdom.
The website and server were seized and taken offline by US and Ukrainian authorities on November 8, 2022.
The exploitation of technology by organised criminals is one of the greatest challenges for law enforcement in the 21st century. Together with the support of partners across UK policing and internationally, we are reinventing the way fraud is investigated. The Met is targeting the criminals at the centre of these illicit webs that cause misery to thousands. By taking away the tools and systems that have enabled fraudsters to cheat innocent people at scale, this operation shows how we are determined to target corrupt individuals intent on exploiting often vulnerable people.London’s Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley
CRACKDOWN AGAINST SPOOFING WEBSITE
At the request of the British government, Eurojust opened the case in October of 2021. The probe was sponsored by national authorities from twelve countries, including European Union member states and non-EU nations. The Agency played a crucial role in fostering cross-border judicial collaboration between all parties involved. Eurojust conducted two coordination meetings to coordinate the national probes and prepare for the action.
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Upon request from the United Kingdom, Europol began aiding the investigation earlier that summer (August 2021). Since then, Europol’s European Cybercrime Centre (EC3) has provided continual intelligence development to the Joint Cybercrime Action Taskforce’s national investigators (J-CAT).
As cybercrime knows no borders, effective judicial cooperation across jurisdictions is key in bringing its perpetrators to court. Eurojust supports national authorities in their efforts to protect citizens against online and offline threats, and to help see that justice gets done.Eurojust President Mr Ladislav Hamran
In addition, EC3 provides law enforcement with a secure platform for exchanging massive packages of evidence. Europol was able to identify more users of the iSpoof service, a number of whom were already known for their involvement in other high-profile cybercrime cases at the European level, as a result of its analytical work.
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