12 held over cyber plot to steal from Santander Bank

Friday 13 September 2013 18.09
A gang remotely took control of computers at a branch of Santander bank in London
A gang remotely took control of computers at a branch of Santander bank in London

UK police have thwarted an "audacious" cyber gang from stealing millions of euro after they remotely took control of a bank branch's computers.

One of the plotters posed as an engineer to fit a computer in a branch of Santander with a "keyboard video mouse" device that allowed them to transmit its desktop contents.

Using the gadget, the gang remotely took control of all the computers at the branch in Surrey Quays Shopping Centre in southeast London, but the Spanish bank said they were unable to steal any money.

Officers yesterday arrested 11 men aged between 23 and 50 in Hounslow, west London. A 34-year-old was arrested in Victoria, west London.

Searches were carried out at addresses in Westminster, Hounslow, Hillingdon, Brent and Richmond, and also in Slough, where property has been seized.

Detective Inspector Mark Raymond, from Scotland Yard's Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), said: "This was a sophisticated plot that could have led to the loss of a very large amount of money from the bank, and is the most significant case of this kind that we have come across.

"The PCeU is committed to tackling cyber-crime and the damage it can cause to individuals, organisations and the wider economy."

A spokesman for the bank said: "The attempt to fit the device to the computer in the Surrey Quays branch was undertaken by a bogus maintenance engineer pretending to be from a third-party.

"It failed and no money was ever at risk. No member of Santander staff was involved in this attempted fraud."