MPS cybercrime unit saves UK economy £140m in six months

The Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) has saved the UK economy more than £140 million in the past six months and is well on course to exceed its four-year harm reduction target.

Oct 6, 2011
By Paul Jacques

The Metropolitan Police Service’s (MPS) Police Central e-Crime Unit (PCeU) has saved the UK economy more than £140 million in the past six months and is well on course to exceed its four-year harm reduction target.

Operational activity targeting online criminals has seen the unit deliver nearly 30 per cent of its £504 million harm reduction target in this initial period alone.

This figure – significantly more than the projected target for a full year – relates to the amount of money the UK has been prevented from losing through cybercrime and has been achieved following a number of successful prosecutions and operations by the unit.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner of Specialist Operations Janet Williams, the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) e-Crime lead for law enforcement said: “In the initial six-month period the PCeU, together with its partners in industry and international law enforcement, has excelled in its efforts to meet this substantial commitment and have delivered in excess of £140 million of financial harm reduction to the UK economy. We hope to be able to better this result in the future as we expand our national capability.”

The ACPO National e-Crime Programme (NeCP), which is responsible for delivering the policing response to the Cabinet Office’s National Cyber Security Programme (NCSP), was allocated £30 million earlier this year after cyber security was recognised as one of the biggest threats to the UK.

The funding has been provided by the Government over a four-year period to support the development of the PCeU, an 85-strong team whose remit is to tackle those responsible for the most serious cybercrime incidents of computer intrusion, distribution of malicious code (malware), denial of service (DDoS) attacks and internet-enabled fraud.

In return for the additional funding, the PCeU was set a target of delivering £504 million of harm reduction during that four-year period, based on a business case which evidenced that for every £1 invested the PCeU would deliver £21 of harm prevention, ie, £1:21 ratio. In the first six months alone the PCeU has delivered a £1:35 harm reduction ratio.

Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdie, from the e-crime unit said: “The PCeU continues to take action in its continuing efforts to reduce the harm caused to the UK economy and to UK citizens by those making use of the internet to commit crime.

“This initial result is only a small sample of the current investigations and interventions being conducted and while providing an investment to return ratio of £1:35, the figure alone does not capture the other important benefits gleaned from the learning obtained from targeting the higher echelon of cyber criminals that we then share with our partners.”

Case studies

Operation Pagode – resulted in £84 million worth of harm saved.

Five defendants were jailed for a total of 15-and-a-half years following an investigation into a group of internet fraudsters who set up an online ‘criminal forum’ which traded unlawfully obtained credit card details and tools to commit computer offences.

During the 11-month operation, detectives uncovered evidence that the defendants were directly involved in the global forum (used by over 8,000 members) which promoted and facilitated the electronic theft of personal information; credit and debit card fraud; buying and selling of personal information (including passwords and PIN details); the creation and exchange of malicious computer programs (malware); the establishment and maintenance of networks of infected personal computers (BotNets); and tutorials offering advice on how to commit such offences, including how to evade and frustrate law enforcement activity and the exchange of details of vulnerable commercial sites and servers.

Operation Dynamaphone – resulted in £5.5 million worth of harm saved.

Three men were jailed for 13-and-a-half years for their part in a sophisticated and concerted

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