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The police take down the enormous fraud website LabHost




The police take down the enormous fraud website LabHost

Illustration of a cybercriminal using a computer.

Seksan Mongkhonkhamsao | Moment | Getty Images

A massive fraud website used by thousands of criminals to trick people into handing over personal information such as email addresses, passwords and banking details has been infiltrated by international police.

Britain’s Metropolitan Police said in a statement on Thursday that the website, called LabHost, was used by 2,000 criminals to steal users’ personal data.

Police have so far identified just under 70,000 individual British victims who entered their details on a website linked to LabHost. According to the Metropolitan Police, a total of 37 suspects have been arrested so far.

Police also disrupted those websites, replacing the information on their pages with a message stating that law enforcement agencies have seized the services.

LabHost obtained 480,000 credit card numbers, 64,000 PINs and more than 1 million passwords for websites and other online services, the Metropolitan Police said.

The Metropolitan Police said it has contacted up to 25,000 victims in Britain to inform them their data has been compromised.

What is LabHost?

Police say LabHost was set up in 2021 by a criminal cyber network that tried to scam victims out of important personally identifiable information, such as banking information and passwords, by creating fake websites.

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Criminals could use it to exploit victims through existing sites, or create new websites that mimicked the websites of trusted brands, including banks, healthcare providers and postal services.

“Online fraudsters believe they can act with impunity,” Dame Lynne Owens, deputy commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Service, said in a statement on Thursday.

“They believe they can hide behind digital identities and platforms like LabHost and have absolute confidence that these sites are impenetrable to law enforcement.”

Owens added that the operation showed “how law enforcement agencies worldwide can and will work together with each other and private sector partners to dismantle international fraud networks at their source.”

Private companies, including blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis, Intel 471, Microsoft, The Shadowserver Foundation, and Trend Micro, worked with law enforcement to identify and take down LabHost.

The investigation began in June 2022 after police received information about LabHost’s activities from the Cyber ​​Defense Alliance, an intelligence-sharing partnership between banks and law enforcement agencies.

The Met’s Cyber ​​Crime Unit subsequently joined forces with the National Crime Agency, the City of London Police, Europol, regional UK authorities and other international police forces to take action.

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