Scotland Yard's cybercrime crackdown squad has cuffed suspected crims accused of masterminding a phishing scam that netted more than £1m in cash from hundreds of unsuspecting students.
The Met's Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) began an investigation in August after a tip-off that students signed up to a government loan scheme had received emails inviting them to update account details via a bogus website ahead of the next term.
However the police action was too late for many undergraduates who were persuaded to hand over their details - the information was used to gain unauthorised access to bank accounts with up to £5,000 extracted in some cases.
The Met said it worked with the Students Loan Company, the banking sector and ISPs as part of the probe, which culminated in raids to properties in the capital, Manchester and Bolton yesterday.
Six individuals - four men and two women - were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, breaches of the Computer Misuse Act and money laundering offences, the Met said late last on Thursday.
Computers and storage media seized by the officers are in the hands of the forensics team.
Detective Inspector Mark Raymond of the PCeU said: "A great deal of personal information was compromised and cleverly exploited for substantial profits. [We have] disrupted a suspected organised group of cyber criminals and prevented further loss to individuals and institutions in the UK."
GetSafeOnline.org claimed that research in November 2010 revealed that 23 per cent of UK web users were victims of phishing. ®