The Metropolitan Police Central eCrime Unit has detained a man on suspicion of acting as a money-laundering co-ordinator for proceeds from online fraud.
The 34-year-old man was arrested in East Ham, London on Monday morning, the police said in a statement. Officers searched a terraced house in Southend Road at approximately 6am and seized data, which is in the process of being examined. They also uncovered equipment believed to be used for payment-card manufacturing. Police think the equipment was being prepared to produce payment cards using stolen card details. A number of blank cards with magnetic strips were seized.
The Metropolitan Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU) suspects that the man was involved in handling money generated by a number of different online criminal rings, including payments from malware attacks and the proceeds of cashing out compromised data, an officer from the unit told ZDNet UK on Tuesday.
In addition, the man is suspected of organising 'money mules' — people who transfer stolen money into 'drop' bank accounts, often mistakenly believing they are acting legitimately. Drop bank accounts are set up specifically to receive the proceeds of crime.
People should be wary of job opportunities which involve the movement of money, detective inspector Paul Hoare said in the PCeU statement.
"Money mules are one of the key enablers for all types of fiscal fraud and internet-based crime in particular," said Hoare. "This arrest reinforces our commitment to combating suspected money 'muling' in both London and across the UK. Individuals tempted by advertised job opportunities moving money using their bank accounts should not get involved as they could be taking part in wider organised money-laundering crime."
Detective chief inspector Nick Downing from Operation Sterling, who is leading the Metropolitan Police activity in support of the campaign, said: "This PCeU operation highlights yet another way fraudsters are using stolen identities to commit crime."
Police have made a number of arrests for online fraud recently. In September, 19 people were arrested in connection with a fraud ring that netted millions of pounds from UK bank accounts using the Zeus Trojan.