By Dana Malcolm
#UnitedKingdom, November 25, 2022 – More than a hundred people have been arrested in a phone scam that duped more than 70,000 UK citizens out of at least £48 million.
The announcement was made by the Metropolitan Police on Wednesday after its biggest ever fraud operation. The Met says it took down the website iSpoof which it is describing as ‘an international one stop spoofing shop’.
Any criminal after paying via bitcoin, could use the website to ‘iSpoof’ or pretend to be someone else to steal data or money. iSpoof worked by disguising their phone numbers so they seemed trustworthy. After paying, criminals made millions of calls trying to trick residents into giving away one time bank passcodes or outright sending them money. Fraudsters logged on and pretended to be representatives of major banks across the United Kingdom including Barclays, Santander, HSBC, Lloyds, Halifax, First Direct, Natwest, Nationwide and tax officers and other official offices.
“Almost 20 people every minute of the day were being contacted by scammers hiding behind false identities using the site,” at one point the Met said.
The site which was created in December 2020 came under investigation in June 2021.
iSpoof had over 59,000 user accounts and fraudsters were logging in from the UK, The Netherlands, France, Ireland and several other areas. Police say they are focusing on the UK violators that spent over £100 of Bitcoin to use the site first.
Detective Superintendent Helen Rance, of the Cyber Crime Unit said, “Our message to criminals who have used this website is we have your details and are working hard to locate you, regardless of where you are.”
The suspected organiser of the website has also been caught.
The initial 70,000 victims were to be contacted on Thursday but the police said as many as 200,000 victims were targeted in England alone. The site was finally busted in an operation that involved the UK’s National Crime Agency, Europol, Eurojust, the Dutch authorities and the FBI.
The Met said losses could be far higher than the initial £48 million figure because fraud is vastly underreported.
Three Arrested, Drugs Seized in North Caicos
#TurksandCaicosIslands – February 20, 2024 – Serious Crime Unit detectives of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have arrested three men and seized a quantity of marijuana and cocaine during anti-crime operations in North Caicos.
Senior Officers and Magistrates issued Authorities and Warrants to Search four premises from noon on February 14th to 3 pm today (February 16th).
Three males, two of whom are aged 21 and an 18-year-old, were arrested for murder. Investigations remain ongoing.
Head of the Serious Crime and Public Protection Unit Superintendent Dean Holden said: “Our team’s dedication and intelligence-led policing continue to play a significant role in disrupting criminal activities.
“Our operations will remain ongoing throughout the TCI as we continue to pursue leads and ensure those responsible for causing fear are held accountable within the confines of the law. Our communities deserve to feel safe, and we won’t rest until that goal is achieved.
“I wish to also thank members of the public for their continued support and information ”.
Additionally, Tactical Officers conducted a series of operations in Grand Turk. Several field searches were conducted in Over Back, and several items relating to ongoing investigations were found, including a firearm.
The public is asked to contact 911, the closest police station, the RTCIPF Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842, or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-8477 and anonymously give any information on illegal activity.
Elderly Tourism Man found with ammunition committed to Trial
Freelance Court Correspondent
#TurksandCaicosIslands, February 15, 2024 – An elderly defendant from the United States of America appeared before her Ladyship the Hon Chief Justice(CJ) Mrs Mable Agyemang via video link from his homeland for sufficiency hearing on Friday 9th February 2024.
His attorneys King’s Counsel, Mr Oliver Smith and assisted by attorney Mrs Kimone Tennant did not challenge the sufficiency hearing and conceded that there is sufficient evidence on the papers or in the bundle to commit the accused to trial in the Supreme Court.
MICHAEL-LEE EVANS was allegedly found with seven rounds of ammunition in his luggage upon departure at the Providenciales International Airport just before Christmas last year, on the 12th December, 2023.
He was remanded by the Magistrate’s Court on December until his sufficiency hearing in February of this year, but his attorney KC Smith filed an emergency swift bail application just before the Supreme Court was adjourned Sine Die (without date) for the holidays.
The office of the DPP, in the person of Mrs Nayasha Hatmin opposed bail for the supposedly very ill senior citizen, but the learned Hon lady Justice Ms Tanya Lobban Jackson granted cash and signed bail to the accused and permitted him to leave the country and return for the plea and directions hearing which is now listed for him on March 22nd, 2024.
Hon. CJ, upon request by Mr. Smith, KC, reluctantly granted a far date for the old man’s plea and directions hearing (PDH).
His PDH was to be on the February 22, along with all the other six individuals committed to stand trial at the sufficiency hearing on Friday February 9th 2024.
However, Mr. Smith KC presented meticulous reasoning for his client, even if at the risk of briefly frustrating of the Chief Justice. Smith requested a much later date for the next court hearing, explaining that he needed time for a decision, he was awaiting from the Court of Appeal on a point of law regarding the issue of “Sentencing Disparity and Exceptions Circumstances” that has created a serious public outcry here in the Turks and Caicos Islands.
KC Smith said the matter involves the Attorneys General reference proceedings before the Court of Appeal and waiting the court’s findings, rulings and/or directions.
The CJ told Mr Smith that she’s not minded to push the court date any further because the matter involving the Attorney General has only to deal with sentence and nothing to do with his client going to trial.
The CJ, in a very strong tone of voice said, “Mr. Smith KC, I don’t normally get annoyed with you but I am annoyed now, I don’t see what the Attorney General reference matter has to do with your client’s case now or being put to the next PDH.”
KC Smith still attempted to try get the CJ to see it his way and he added that he’s also not going to be in the jurisdiction at the next PDH on 22nd February. The CJ then reminded him that he’s here today before the court with his assistant Mrs Kimone Tennant allow her to do it, but he said he have conduct of the matter and would prefer doing the matter himself.
The CJ warned him that “you have used up all your Christmas presents indulgence for the year already” as she reluctantly granted him an extra month’s extension for the PDH regarding the American Tourist Michael-Lee Evans. The Plea and Directions Hearing (PDH) is set for March 22nd.
Ms. Tassja Mitchell was for the Crown and took no position throughout but when asked by the CJ her position, she replied, “I’m guided by the Court my lady.”
The accused man’s bail was extended to his next Court date of which he will have to travel back to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) as ordered by her Ladyship the Hon Ms.Tanya Lobban-Jackson when she granted him bail in December last year.
LORENZO GERBEX CHARGED by Royal TCI Police
Officers of the Serious Crime Unit of the Royal Turks and Caicos Islands Police Force have charged a man with drug and firearm-related offences.
LORENZO GERBEX, 28, of Providenciales, was charged yesterday (February 11). Mr. Gerbex is charged with the following offences:
- Conspiring to supply firearms and
- Conspiring to supply cannabis.
The accused was remanded in custody pending the next available court date.
Head of Crime and Public Protection, Superintendent Dean Holden, said, “Following an intensive six-month investigation into the supply of firearms, ammunition and controlled drugs in the Turks and Caicos Islands, officers arrested Mr Gerbex. The charges were laid after police officers consulted with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
This is part of the continued efforts by the RTCIPF to target Serious and Organised Crime on the islands and reduce the associated violence.
I again appeal to the public to give us information on illegal activities by calling 911, the Serious Crime Unit at 231-1842 or the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-8477 (TIPS).”
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