UK’s biggest fraud sting takes down website linked to 200,000 victims

One victim who was scammed by fraudsters using ispoof lost £3m

At one point, as many as 20 people every minute were being contacted by callers using technology bought from the site. Photo: iStockphoto
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A phone number-spoofing website used by criminals to defraud thousands of victims of millions of pounds has been shut down in the UK’s biggest ever fraud sting.

Scotland Yard was part of a global operation to bring down ispoof, a website described by police as an online fraud shop.

They worked with Dutch law enforcement officials who managed to tap the website’s servers in the Netherlands to secretly listen to phone calls.

At one point, as many as 20 people every minute were being contacted by callers using technology bought from the site. It is estimated that more than 200,000 potential victims were targeted.

Criminals, who found out about the site from advertisements posted on channels on the encrypted messaging app Telegram, used it to buy technology that allowed them to mask their phone numbers.

This meant they could trick victims into thinking they were being contacted by their bank and persuade them to pass on personal details that allowed the fraudsters to steal cash.

One victim lost £3 million ($3.6 million) and the average loss among the 4,785 people who have reported being affected to Action Fraud is £10,000.

There are thought to be many more potential victims.

Of 10 million fraudulent calls made, 40 per cent were in the US, 35 per cent were in the UK and the rest were spread across a number of countries.

About 70,000 UK phone numbers called by criminals who used the site will be alerted by the Metropolitan Police via text message on Thursday and Friday and asked to contact the force.

So far, 120 arrests have been made — 103 in London and 17 outside the capital.

These include alleged site administrator Teejay Fletcher, 35, who was arrested in east London earlier this month and is facing criminal charges.

Police said Mr Fletcher, who is believed to be a member of an organised crime group, was living a “lavish” lifestyle.

The site is said to have made more than £3 million profit.

Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley said the number of potential UK victims was “extraordinary”.

“What we are doing here is trying to industrialise our response to the organised criminals’ industrialisation of the problem,” he said.

Ispoof was created in December 2020 and at its peak had 59,000 users, allowing them to pay for the criminal software using Bitcoin, with charges ranging from £150 to £5,000 per month.

UK police began investigating the site in June 2021, believing ispoof to be the largest criminal site that was based in the country.

Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, who leads the Met division on cyber crime, said: “By taking down ispoof, we have prevented further offences and stopped fraudsters targeting future victims.

“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.”

Updated: November 24, 2022, 7:46 AM