Arrest made in student loans phishing scam

December 18th 2013

Police officers investigating a suspected conspiracy to defraud students online have arrested a 34-year-old Nigerian man in Manchester on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering.

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The arrest was made as part of an ongoing investigation into an alleged phishing scam targeting hundreds of UK students by using their compromised data to steal in excess of £1.5 million. It is believed that as far back as 2011, students were sent emails inviting them to update details on their student loan account via a link to a bogus website. When they went to the site, cybercriminals were able to gain unauthorised access to their bank accounts and extract large amounts of money.

Officers from the the Metropolitan Police's Cyber Crime Unit – assisted by colleagues from Greater Manchester Police and the National Crime Agency (NCA) – executed a search warrant at a home in Manchester. They recovered a number of computers, related media storage and phones. It is suspected that he may be responsible for controlling a 'botnet' – a network of virus-infected computers used to spread phishing emails and computer viruses to other victims. The man is currently in custody at a Manchester police station.

Detective Inspector Sanjiv Gohil of the MPS Cyber Crime Unit, said: "We've made this arrest in connection with an ongoing investigation into offences which date back to 2011. This shows our utter commitment to pursuing those suspected of cyber crime. In this case, the victims are students and banks. We work really closely with the banking industry to locate and bring to justice those who seek to profit from illicit cyber activities, especially at the expense of innocent members of the public."

A 24-year-old woman has also been interviewed under caution in Manchester.

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