Police from the new Police Central E-Crime Unit (PCeU) today arrested nine suspects in connection with money laundering, computer misuse and conspiracy to defraud using a Trojan aimed at banks.
The suspects, four women and five men aged between 18 and 30, were arrested following police raids on addresses in south east London. Police said the gang, believed to be from Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union countries, used servers in Europe to spread the virus, which targeted the financial service industry.
The virus allowed the suspects to steal money from bank accounts by transfer it to accounts set up and controlled by the gang. People recruited by the gang then withdrew the cash.
More than 50 officers from the PCeU, local boroughs and Specialist Crime Directorate operated for the first time as a "virtual task force". Police said this was "an innovative approach to tackling e-crime".
The task force was able to share intelligence specifically connected to the criminal activity to identify, locate and neutralise the threat, police said.
Detective chief inspector Terry Wilson said members of the virtual task force had established "a unique open sharing of intelligence, relating to specific criminal activity".
He said, "The expertise and knowledge-sharing with our stakeholders in the banking and financial industry has been combined with conventional policing to create a co-ordinated and sustained fast response to e-crime and the most up-to-date in computer forensics."
Deputy assistance commissioner Janet Williams, Acpo lead for e-crime, said today's raid showed that the long-awaited national e-crime unit was now up and running.
"There is a great deal of expertise within the PCeU and the lessons from today's operation will be shared across the other 42 police forces to ensure we can co-ordinate cross-force initiatives to crack down on online offences," she said.