Soca recovers millions from cyber criminals

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) thwarted a number of major cyber crimes throughout 2008/09, resulting in scores of arrests and millions of pounds...

The Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) thwarted a number of major cyber crimes throughout 2008/09, resulting in scores of arrests and millions of pounds in recovered assets.

In its annual report published yesterday, SOCA revealed how it brought down the online criminal forum DarkMarket, which was widely regarded as one of the key sites supporting the theft and sale of compromised personal information. DarkMarket traded in large quantities of stolen payment card and banking data, and provided criminals with the tools to exploit them.

Working with the FBI, SOCA was able to collect vital intelligence and forensic data, leading to the arrest of some 60 people in Turkey, Germany, the US and the UK.

The collar most prized was that of Adewale Taiwo, a Nigerian national known as "fredbb" in DarkMarket, now serving five years imprisonment for conspiracy to defraud. Taiwo admitted causing £600,000 of fraud, although £240,000 had been successfully frozen by the banking sector. He will be deported on completion of his sentence.

SOCA reported that coordinated international operations saved $70m in potential losses and recovered more than 16,000 compromised cards, with forensic work still underway.

In another major sting, SOCA subverted the largest ever attempted bank theft in the UK when it tracked and stopped a gang attempting to transfer £229m from the Sumitomo Matsui Banking Corporation in London.

As part of a global effort against Nigerian 419 and other mass marketing scams, which cost the UK £340m each year, SOCA also worked with Nigerian authorities to intercept fraudulent mail targeting the UK. Soca intercepted 20,000 responses from victims of the scams, with the agency pledging to return money to anybody tricked by the con.

The report outlined the results of SOCAs ongoing investment in IT solutions, including an estimated £1.5m in savings resulting from its technology-enabled self support programme.

The interception of communications was identified as a key component of SOCAs operations, with new systems deployed and the announcement of plans to work closely with the Home Office on future improvements under the Interception Modernisation Programme. SOCA also reported improved processes for sharing data on criminals, embedding IT systems and staff in police-led regional intelligence units.

SOCA undertook a major overhaul of its IT systems throughout 2008/09. Two large and separate legacy networks were integrated under the auspices of IT Transformation. The 2010 programme saw the replacement of SOCAs inherited IT and logistics services contracts, with Treasury approval received to initiate procurement.

Work also stared on Project Kerno, an initiative to deliver the Suspicious Activity Reports Transformation Project, the Atlas Programme (SOCA's core records management capability) and a core ICT transformation programme to reduce costs and modernise processes.

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