Three men were recently arrested in Rochdale, Greater Manchester in England for purchasing crucial personal data on the dark web and later using the data to buy goods valued at over £1 million in local stores. According to the investigators, the cybercriminals have so far made more than 300 of such fraudulent purchases.
These crimes date back to 2014 and have been taking place up to date, with the victims oblivious of the heinous acts. Personal information bought from the dark web was used to access bank accounts of innocent customers and ultimately the victim’s money for the benefit of the criminals.
According to the police, bank details were used to make orders on expensive goods which were then delivered by unsuspecting couriers to specific locations in Rochdale. From there, another person then met the couriers for transporting the goods to another location, or they were transferred into another van from where the fraudsters would collect them.
The costly items obtained included copper pipes, industrial ride-on lawn mowers, car tires, and paint. It is suspected the goods were to be re-sold later in retail to make a profit.
According to Phil Larratt, a Senior Officer of the National Crime Agency (NCA), investigations of the crime were triggered by a massive data breach that resulted in the loss of many people’s savings. Immediately, a multi-agency partnership was developed to apprehend the criminals and combat the crimes before they went out of control.
Investigations were then carried out by the multi-agency team led by the South East Regional Organized Crime Unit and consisting of the Greater Manchester Police, the National Crime Agency, Titan, and the North West Regional Organized Crime Unit. These groups had been working together for a couple of months targeting the gang members involved in the hacking of credit card data and those who buy such information.
They raided four addresses which included Clifford Street, Baron Street, Kensington Street, and Lloyd Street. It was at these places where the three men aged 25, 35 and 36 were arrested. The trio are in police custody where they continue to await the final hearing and verdict of their case.
According to the investigators, the trio was charged with fraud by false representation which is a violation of the Fraud Act of 2006 and for violating the Proceeds of the Crime Act of 2002. The police detectives are still working on the case to gather up more evidence that will incriminate the trio in a court of law.
According to Detective Inspector Rob Byrant of the South East Regional Cyber Crime Unit (SERCCU), protective measures need to be taken seriously to prevent the occurrence of such offenses. He urged companies, especially credit card companies, to reassess their policies and to take action to protect their customer’s accounts just as they are obliged to.
Security should also be updated to match current technology to make it more difficult for cybercriminals to penetrate their systems. These measures should not only be taken up by card companies in the UK but also by other companies internationally since they are all vulnerable to cyber-attack.
He further stated that such crimes have been on the rise lately, with personal data stolen from companies being sold on the dark web at high prices. It is a 21st century policing problem that has forced different law enforcement agencies to restructure their tactics to fight crime.
He added that such transgressions would continue to be investigated and offenders would face the strong arm of the law. The NCA, police, and other agencies will also continue to work together persistently to apprehend those involved in the subsequent crimes that often follow after the initial hacking of card data and the sale of the data on the dark web.
Inspector Darren Callaghan from the Greater Manchester Police said that the local community should work together with the police to bring to light such offenders by communicating any information that might help either through the Action Fraud website or by calling them through a 24-hour active number stated on their website. He urged the importance of such cooperation by insisting that medium and small-scale businesses were the most at risk as they would or already are experiencing huge blows due to the hit by the cyber-attacks.