The National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) has arrested 12 eastern Europeans living in London and Kent suspected of laundering money from bank accounts that have been attacked by phishing scams.
The NHTCU confirmed that the six men and six women were from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and the Ukraine.
While the brains behind these scams are usually located outside the UK, they need people in this country to channel back the funds taken from victims of these attacks.
Typically, UK-based bank accounts are opened then used to transfer the money overseas.
The suspects were allegedly recruited by individuals close to Russian crime syndicates to open bank accounts into which the stolen money was placed. It was then transferred to Russia, minus a commission of seven per cent.
The FBI and US Secret Service joined NHTCU officers to search addresses in Bermondsey, Edmonton, Shepherds Bush, Stoke Newington, Streatham, Tottenham, as well as Ramsgate in Kent.
Police seized computers and other electronic media, passports, cheque books and bank cards, money and crack cocaine.
Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU, said in a statement: "Organised crime is targeting internet users, and specifically Russian-speakers, in the UK to launder money stolen from online bank accounts where people have been duped into handing over their account details.
"We believe this gang has sent hundreds of thousands of pounds back to Russia. They have targeted a large number of high street and internet banks and, because they are unable to break into the banks' systems themselves, they are resorting to duping account holders into parting with their details.
"This is a sophisticated operation involving false identities, and only by working together with the banking industry and other law enforcement agencies has this success been possible."
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