A 28 year old man has been arrested in the area of New Addington, Croydon in South London in connection with an online banking scam during the wee hours of March 27, 2013. The arrest was made by the Metropolitan Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) and the Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA).
Suspected cyber criminal arrested in south London
According to the Metropolitan Police, “This arrest is in connection with an ongoing operation investigating the distribution of malware designed to infect personal computers via the internet and then capture the user’s personal details to facilitate fraudulent transactions.”
Moreover, the police said that all the electric equipment and computer belonging to the man was seized for further investigation. The metropolitan police has posted the mechanism of such malware and its use in perpetrating fraudulent brank transactions in detail on their website and have also given the necessary precautions and safety measures that must be adopted by the public so as to stay clear of such scams. They advised the people to regularly update their antivirus and anti-spamming software for preventing such incidents of internet fraud.
The growing number of cyber crime incidents and similar frauds has led the legislation to propose the development of a specialized department to tackle cyber crime and the necessary procedure to establish such a cell is under consideration in the Parliament. The need for a special cell is growing by the day as numerous internet and malware based frauds are taking place in the United Kingdom and losses worth millions have been incurred by many during the last year and this year has also seen a spate of cyber attacks.
It seems that it is not easy to get rid of old habits and this adage was proved in all its essence when a convicted hacker who is serving his sentence was let into an in-prison IT class by the instructor, and predictably enough, he hacked into the prison system itself during the class. Nicholas Webber, 21, who is regarded by many as one of the most notorious cyber criminals in UK history and serving a five year sentence in the HM Prison Isis in South London, was convicted in 2011 after he started an online consortium for cyber criminals known as Ghost Market at the age of 17 which tutored budding criminals on how to steal confidential information such as credit card details and how to perpetrate malware and perform a variety of cyber crimes. It is estimated that the activities associated with the site caused financial losses up to 15 million pounds from more than 65,000 stolen credit cards and was the biggest such criminal site unearthed by UK police at the time with more than 8000 members . His case gained widespread publicity because of media speculation about the playboy lifestyle Webber funded through his illegal activities. Webber was apprehended in 2011 at the age of 18 after he was found using fraudulent credit card details to pay for a penthouse suite at the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane, Central London. The prison HMP Isis is a Category C male young offender’s institution, which houses convicts between 18 to 24 years of age. Moreover, it is not clear whether any access had been obtained by Webber during the hacking.
Jailed cybercriminal hacks own prison’s computer
The incident itself had happened way back in 2011 but came into public notice only recently as the IT instructor Michael Fox, who worked for Kensington and Chelsea College lodged a claim for unfair dismissal, after the prison authorities blamed him for the hacking and he was banned from the prison. He was cleared from the charge of committing any security breaches by the college but during a disciplinary hearing last year and was reemployed as no other job could be found for him. However, during a hearing at the Croydon Employment Tribunal, Mr. Fox asserted a lack of initiative by the college in finding a job for him, as he claimed that he did not know that Webber was a convicted hacker and that it was not his decision to let him into the class. The tribunal has scheduled his case to be heard in April.
A spokesperson for the Prison Service confirmed the role of Webber in performing the hack in the prison system and commented that ‘At the time of this incident in 2011 the educational computer system at HMP Isis was a closed network. No access to personal information or wider access to the internet or other prison systems would have been possible.’
It seems that Weber did not manage to do much harm after all and is not allowed any access to computers while the tutor continues his legal battle against unfair dismissal.