The Met Police have busted a global online fraud shop selling tools that enabled criminals to carry out phone scams on hundreds of thousands of unsuspecting victims.
Detectives disabled the iSpoof website as part of the biggest anti-fraud operation ever carried out in the UK.
Criminals using software bought from the illegal site targeted victims around the world to steal hundreds of millions of pounds.
The subscription service, allegedly set up by 34-year-old Teejai Fletcher, who lived in a luxury flat in Docklands, allowed heartless criminals to hide their phone numbers and trick unsuspecting people into thinking they were being called by their bank.
Armed with details of their financial transactions purchased from the dark web, the fraudsters were able to trick victims into revealing secret PINs so they could drain their accounts.
The average loss suffered by those targeted is estimated at £10,000, but one person is known to have had £3 million stolen.
Launched in December 2020, iSpoof at one point boasted nearly 60,000 criminal users worldwide.
Details of the site were advertised on fraudulent channels on the Telegram platform, and criminals would pay up to £5,000 a month in Bitcoins to access the software tools.
In the 12 months to August 2022, around 10 million fraudulent calls were made globally via iSpoof, with around 3.5 million taking place in the UK.
The site was so popular with phone scammers that at one point it was estimated that 20 people were contacted every minute using the illegal software tools.
Police have arrested 120 suspected phone scammers around the UK, 103 of whom are in London.
Other arrests are taking place around the world, including in Australia, France, Ireland and the Netherlands.
Scotland Yard is now appealing for potential victims to come forward, and detectives are preparing to send text messages to 70,000 people whose phone numbers were used by iSpoof scammers.
Over the next two days, police will send text messages to those who may have been affected with details of how to report any suspicious activity they have been exposed to.
Sir Mark Rowley, the Met commissioner said it represented the biggest ever fraud operation in the UK and signaled a “different approach” by law enforcement to tackling cybercrime.
He said: “This operation is about getting to those who create the industrialization of fraud, who sell the tools that enable your average criminals to become fraudsters and create tens of thousands of victims.”
He added: “We are trying to industrialize our response to the organized criminals’ industrialization of the problem.”
Detective Inspector Helen Rance, who leads cybercrime for the Met, said: “By removing iSpoof we have prevented further offenses and stopped fraudsters targeting future victims.
“Our message to criminals who have used this website is that we have your information and are working hard to find you wherever you are.”
Sir. Fletcher has been charged with making or supplying articles for use in fraud, participating in the activities of an organized criminal group and proceeds of crime.
He will next appear at Southwark Crown Court on December 6.