Lancashire man arrested in first UK "phishing" case

April 29, 2004 Sophos Press Release

21-year-old man is the first to be arrested in the UK for suspected 'phishing'
21-year-old man is the first to be arrested in the UK for suspected "phishing"

British police have arrested a 21-year-old man for "phishing" in what is said to be the first case of if its kind in the UK.

The man, from Lytham St Anne's, Lancashire, was questioned in connection with an incident designed to steal account details from users of the Smile online internet bank. Smile informed the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit (NHTCU) of the fraudulent email, directing users to a bogus website, in March.

"There has been a steady increase in "phishing" attacks where criminals attempts to steal bank account information from innocent computer users. "Phishers" have spammed out messages asking users to enter their passwords, PIN and credit card numbers on websites cunningly disguised to look like a genuine internet bank." said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos. "If they don't take proper precautions, innocent users can find their online bank accounts have been plundered by criminals."

Other "phishing" attempts have included bogus emails claiming to come from a number of banks including Wells Fargo, Nationwide, NatWest, Barclays, Westpac and Halifax.

"The people behind these emails are common criminals, intent on stealing your cash," continued Cluley. "Any user who receives a bogus bank email should inform the bank immediately so that they and the legal authorities can investigate."

A spokeswoman from the National Hi-Tech Crime Unit has said that PCs belonging to the man are being examined by computer forensic experts. The man, who is unemployed, has been released on bail until August.