Men held after attempted Santander cyber theft

13th September 2013

Santander has said that no money was ever as risk as a result of sophisticated cyber theft plot which has resulted in the arrest of 12 men.

For information and advice about keeping your business safe online, click here

Officers from the Metropolitan Police's Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) arrested the men after the daring attempt to take control of a computer system at the Surrey Quays Shopping Centre, in order to commit a theft.

The officers arrested 11 of the men – aged between 23 and 50 – in Hounslow, with a further arrest of a 34 year-old man being made in Vauxhall. Searches were conducted at a number of addresses in Westminster, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Brent, Richmond and Slough, with property seized from the Berkshire property. The suspects are currently being held at a London police station.

The arrests came after a long-term proactive operation by the PCeU, working in conjunction with the banking sector.

A KVM (keyboard video mouse) device was fitted to a computer within the bank branch by men posing as IT support workers. If operational, the device would have allowed the transmission of the complete desktop contents of the bank's computer over the network, enabling the suspects to take control of the computer over the internet. Fortunately, however, the conspiracy was foiled before the device became operational.

The PCeU's Detective Inspector Mark Raymond commented: "This was a sophisticated plot that could have led to the loss of a very large amount of money from the bank, and is the most significant case of this kind that we have come across. I would like to thank our partners from the industry who have provided valuable assistance throughout this investigation." DI Raymond continued: "The PCeU is committed to tackling cyber-crime and the damage it can cause to individuals, organisations and the wider economy."

A Santander spokesperson said: "Like all High St Banks, Santander works very closely with the Police and other authorities to help prevent fraud. Through this co-operation, Santander was aware of the possibility of the attack connected to today's arrests. The attempt to fit the device to the computer in the Surrey Quays Branch was undertaken by a bogus maintenance engineer pretending to be from a third party. It failed and no money was ever at risk. No member of Santander staff was involved in this attempted fraud. We are pleased that we have been able, through the robustness of our systems, to prevent the fraud and help the police gather the evidence they needed to make the arrests. Santander operates multiple levels of controls to protect customers' funds and this attack would not have been successful."

Written by

In partnership with