Over 140 arrested in UK, Dutch phone spoofing bust; Two suspects in Almere
The Dutch and United Kingdom police busted an international spoofing service, iSpoof, taking the service for committing helpdesk fraud offline and arresting 142 suspects. Two suspects were arrested in Almere, the rest in the U.K., the police said on Thursday.
Criminals used iSpoof to make their phone numbers look like the numbers of banks or government services, for example. They called victims posing as these services and then convinced them to give them their private information or transfer money. “The financial damage per victim can be enormous,” the police said. “Some victims have seen their savings or pension pot disappear within hours.”
In an ongoing investigation into bank helpdesk fraud, the Midden-Nederland Cybercrime team came across iSpoof, hosted on servers in Almere. Investigation showed that an operator of this service lived in London, and London’s Metropolitan Police were already investigating him. The police forces, therefore, linked their investigations.
By tapping the servers in Almere, the police discovered that iSpoof callers made approximately 1 million calls worldwide per month. “In the Netherlands, there are probably thousands of calls per month,” the police said.
The London police arrested the owner of iSpoof on November 6, and the authorities took the service offline, with the FBI seizing the domain name. The tap in Almere helped identify some of the iSpoof users. The police arrested 142 suspects in total, including two men from Almere aged 19 and 22. The police expect more arrests in the future.
The Dutch police reminded Netherlands residents that bank employees would never ask for their PIN or personal details over the phone. Bank employees also don’t go to people’s homes to discuss their bank details or pick up cards, for example. “Banks do not use vault accounts and never ask you to transfer money to them. They will also never ask you to download software that someone can use to watch on a computer or tablet.”
If someone tries to convince you to do any of those things, hang up and inform the police, the police said.