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Police bust global cyber gang accused of Britain’s most prolific scam site

Police bust global cyber gang accused of Britain’s most prolific scam site

With dozens of arrests, this cybercrime ring has been taken down.

The UK's Metropolitan Police has announced it's shut down a huge scam website ring, leading to scores of arrests.

The website's scamming had apparently hoodwinked some 70,000 victims in the UK alone, and was able to collect 480,000 card numbers and 64,000 PINs globally.

In what sounds like an impressively coordinated sting operation, police arrested 37 different suspects around the world.

Yuichiro Chino / Getty
Yuichiro Chino / Getty

The site was called LabHost, and was set up in 2021 with the pure intention of running scam sites, conducting phishing operations designed to fool people into giving away their personal details for financial gain.

Amazingly, it operated as a sort of menu for scammers, who could visit LabHost and then pick from a roster of fake sites that they wanted to use to extract details from their chosen victims.

LabHost could also make bespoke pages for those who wanted more precise requirements and provide templates for people to work with.

By early 2024, according to police, more than 40,000 of these fake sites had been created, and LabHost had a paying membership base of some 2,000 people.

Its most expensive membership option was the “worldwide membership”, which could target victims internationally, and cost between £200 ($250) and £300 ($375) a month.

d3sign / Getty
d3sign / Getty

Police estimate that the service raked in just under £1 million ($1.25m) while it was operational, but some of those paying subscribers will have been given a fright recently.

When the website was seized and taken down as part of the police operation, some 800 of its users were apparently sent a message: that police know who they are and what they've been doing.

Talking about the operation, Dame Lynne Owens, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said: "Online fraudsters think they can act with impunity. They believe they can hide behind digital identities and platforms such as LabHost and have absolute confidence these sites are impenetrable by policing."

Don't worry, though - according to Owens: "This operation and others over the last year show how law enforcement worldwide can, and will, come together with one another and private sector partners to dismantle international fraud networks at source."

So, it looks like some online criminals might have their work cut out to now keep working undetected. Still, it's always worth remaining vigilant with your card details, since this only shows how sophisticated the crimes like this have become.

Featured Image Credit: Gards/Sean Anthony Eddy/ Getty