International law enforcement authorities, including An Garda Síochána, have smashed a major website used by international criminals to defraud €115m from people across the world.
The iSpoof.cc website was a complex site that allowed criminals to engage in cybercrime by make millions of phone calls where they impersonated trusted corporations or contacts to access sensitive information from victims.
It is believed this server and website is used by criminals to commit these type frauds around the world, including by people in Ireland targeting Irish residents.
An Garda Síochána, who have arrested six people here, joined with other police forces across Europe, Australia, the United States, Ukraine, and Canada in a global criminal investigation to take down the site.
The investigations showed the website was potentially used by 21,000 users worldwide who are all suspected of being engaged in fraudulent activities using spoofed phone numbers.
In the 12 months until August 2022 around 10 million fraudulent calls were made globally via iSpoof.
The operation to remove it has been led by the London Metropolitan Police.
On November 8 the website and server was seized and taken offline by US and Ukrainian authorities.
The website has now been replaced by a ‘splash screen video’.
In support of this international operation, the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) supported by the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau (GNCCB) and local Divisional resources in Dublin, Meath and Louth coordinated activity in Ireland on November 8 and 9 resulting in 17 searches in Dublin, Meath, and Louth; six arrests including the execution of 14 bench warrants; 132 electronic devices being seized; 64 suspect bank accounts identified, and ancillary evidential exhibits seized.
This operation focused on the users of the website, which is a website designed to allow persons to make telephone calls and/or send sms or text messages from ‘spoofed’ numbers that appear to be from genuine telephone numbers such as bank fraud lines, government departments, policing organisation, business organisations or delivery companies and more.
Law enforcement estimate a worldwide loss to victims in excess of €115m.
Speaking about An Garda Síochána’s participation in this global law enforcement operation Assistant Commissioner Paul Cleary, of Organised and Serious Crime said over recent months we are all aware of the proliferation of ‘spoof’ and scam phone calls.
“An Garda Síochána, working with our international law enforcement partners, is playing our part in targeting and degrading the activities of organised crime groups.
"The activities earlier this month is the start of a significant investigation being led by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau which will bring those involved in these criminal activities in this jurisdiction before the courts here in Ireland,” he said.
“This was an evidence-gathering phase of the operation in Ireland and investigations are ongoing,” he added.