Bristol man arrested as part of international fraud operation
As part of Operation Elaborate – the UK’s biggest ever fraud operation led by the Metropolitan Police – officers from the South West Regional Organised Crime Unit (SWROCU) executed a warrant on November 10 and arrested a 21-year old man.
The man from Knowle West in Bristol was arrested on suspicion of fraud by false representation as well as possession with intent to supply class B drugs. Cannabis, several thousands of pounds in cash, mobile phones and high value-goods were seized from his property. He has been released under investigation.
The arrest is in connection with the take-down of the fraudulent website iSpoof, which enabled criminals to hide behind false identities which allowed them to scam innocent members of the public out of money.
Fraudsters utilising the technology provided by iSpoof posed as representatives of banks including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, Natwest, Nationwide and TSB. It is believed that more than 200,000 potential victims in this country alone have been directly targeted through the website.
DI Marc Milliner of SWROCU said: “This arrest demonstrates our commitment to targeting the offenders who enable the frauds we’re all familiar with in our daily life through spoof emails, texts and calls. Fraud is not a victimless crime and this operation highlights how we are working with our law enforcement partners to target these criminals who cause misery to so many.”
The Metropolitan Police is sending text messages to 70,000 people who may have been targeted by fraudsters using iSpoof. Potential victims will only receive the message on 24 November or 25 November 2022.
If you receive a text like this outside of this 48-hour window, it could be a scam and should be ignored.
The message will ask you to visit the Met Police website at met.police.uk/elaborate but, crucially, it will not contain a direct link. Scam texts often invite you to follow a link by tapping to open it, so to help distinguish this as a legitimate message, the Metropolitan Police won’t be linking directly to its website.
You may be contacted regardless of where you live in the UK, not just in London.
Advice on staying safe online can be found on the website of the National Cyber Security Centre.
If you believe you have been a victim of fraud, please call the national fraud and cybercrime reporting centre ActionFraud on 0300 123 2040.