Updated UK police have arrested 19 cybercrime suspects who allegedly used the ZeuS crimeware toolkit to capture online banking credentials before looting victims' bank accounts.
A total of 15 men and four women, aged between 23 and 47 years old, were arrested in dawn raids on in London Tuesday by officers from the newly established Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU), which is based in Scotland Yard. Investigators reckon the group is collectively responsible for the theft of £6m over the last three months from thousands of victims.
The suspects were arrested on suspicion of offences computer hacking and fraud offences and taken into custody for questioning. Two of those arrested will also be quizzed over the alleged possession of a firearm.
Police worked with the banking industry in the investigation that led up to Tuesday's arrests.
Detective Chief Inspector Terry Wilson of the PCeU, said: "We've worked closely with UK banks through our Virtual Taskforce approach to gather information and evidence which has resulted in today's arrests."
"We believe we have disrupted a highly organised criminal network, which has used sophisticated methods to siphon large amounts of cash from many innocent peoples' accounts, causing immense personal anxiety and significant financial harm."
"Online banking customers must make sure their security systems are up to date and be alert to any unusual or additional security features requested which is at variance with their normal log-on experience. Greater public awareness and education will make it harder for personal details to be compromised and for this type of fraud to be carried out," he added.
The arrests follow reports from security firms including Trusteer and M86 Security of a series of targeted attacks at UK bank accounts using the ZeuS crimeware toolkit. ZeuS is most often used as a banking Trojan but it also lends itself to spam distribution or denial of service attacks. Customised copies of the malware are traded on underground carding forums, an business that's highly unlikely to suffer any disruption from this week's arrests.
PCeU officers separately arrested two suspected ZeuS-using cybercrooks in Manchester last November. ®