Authorities in UK dismantled a gang of Eastern European fraudsters, who used the notorious ZeuS computer trojan to steal as much as £20 million (over $31 million) from the bank accounts of hundreds of people.The bust was the result of an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Service's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), which collaborated with financial institutions through its Virtual Taskforce.
Police raided several locations across London yesterday morning and arrested fifteen men and four women, aged 23 to 47, on suspicion of offenses under the Computer Misuse Act, Proceeds of Crime Act and Fraud Act.
According to The Daily Mail, the alleged ringleader is in his early 20s and he coordinated the whole operation from a single laptop in his living room.
He was arrested along with his wife and another couple, who are suspected of participating in the operation, in his third-floor flat in Chingford, Essex.
Authorities claim that the gang has stolen £6 million (around $9.5 million) in the past three months alone, but the total fraud is estimated at £20 million.
Despite this, the suspects were living pretty modestly compared to other fraudsters, who at the time of their arrest were renting luxury apartments, driving expensive cars or wearing designer clothes.
This suggest that the gang's members were intelligent enough to know not to attract attention to themselves. Some of them might also be dangerous as two are also investigated for illegal firearm possession.
The gang used a notorious computer trojan known as ZeuS or ZBot to steal online banking credentials, financial details and other personal information from users.
The fraudulent transfers were routed through so called "drop" accounts, that belonged to middlemen paid to serve as money mules.
"We believe we have disrupted a highly organised criminal network, which has used sophisticated methods to siphon large amounts of cash from many innocent peoples’ accounts, causing immense personal anxiety and significant financial harm - which of course banks have had to repay at considerable cost to the economy," said Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson, who led the investigation.