Foiled – gang that tried to 'download' a bank branch's entire funds

'Audacious' cyber-criminals try to steal millions by remotely accessing Santander Bank computers

Crime Correspondent

A criminal gang has been foiled in its attempt to steal millions of pounds without anyone realising a bank job was actually taking place. A bogus telephone engineer walked into a south London branch of Santander on Thursday and tried to fit a device to a computer that would have allowed the gang to remotely operate the computer and potentially siphon off millions.

But it appears that the bank and police knew about the plot and the bogus workman was being tracked in an apparent sting operation after he spent an hour inside the branch. He left without fitting the device.

Twelve men, aged 23 to 50, have been arrested in London for alleged conspiracy to steal from the bank in what police said was an “audacious” plot that could have seen the gang view the entire contents of the desktop computer. It was not clear today if the bogus engineer was allowed through security to the non-public area of the bank.

Using a keyboard video mouse – standard kit for IT experts to ensure the smooth-running of networks – the gang intended to wait until someone logged on, then used their identity to break through the bank’s cyber security when the worker took a break from the screen, according to experts. No member of staff was involved in the alleged plot.

The police and bank said that no money was stolen but the branch at Surrey Quays was closed yesterday as customers scrambled to check their accounts. Some said they would switch banks because of the potential for a security breach. Detective Inspector Mark Raymond, from Scotland Yard’s Police Central e-crime Unit (PCeU), said: “This was a sophisticated plot that could have led to the loss of a very large amount of money from the bank and is the most significant case of this kind that we have come across.”

A number of addresses were also searched and property seized said police. The attempt is likely to have been caught on CCTV cameras at the branch.

A bank spokesman said: “Santander was aware of the possibility of the attack connected to the arrests. The attempt to fit the device to the computer in the Surrey Quays Branch was undertaken by a bogus maintenance engineer pretending to be from a third party. It failed and no money was ever at risk.”

However, concerned customers yesterday used ATM machines to check whether funds were still in their accounts. One woman, who identified herself as Sally, 38, from Rotherhithe, said she would consider taking her money out. “A couple of years ago I had my card cloned at a hole in the wall and £600 stolen. I’m definitely thinking of moving bank. It doesn’t feel safe to leave all my money in there any more after this.”

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Life and Style
The spring/summer 2015 Louis Vuitton show for Paris Fashion Week
fashion
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?