Police arrest 'iPhone fraudsters'
Police have shut down a global criminal conspiracy suspected of milking millions of pounds from stolen iPhones through premium phone lines.
Nine people accused of co-ordinating the sophisticated scam were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud in a series of early Wednesday morning raids.
City of London Police detectives swooped on homes in Forest Gate and Southall in London, Southend, Walsall, central Birmingham and Middlesbrough, seizing dozens of mobile phones, hundreds of Sim cards, computers, documentation, stolen bank cards, several fake passports and cash.
The raids followed a month-long investigation into a rapidly growing criminal conspiracy profiting from the theft and illegal use of almost 1,000 iPhones.
Police were called in after mobile phone company 02 watched the scam spiral out of control, with £1.2 million stolen through premium phone lines in July alone.
Sim cards were being shipped abroad and plugged into automatic dialling machines calling lines around the clock that charge up to £10 a minute.
The cards were racking up enormous bills in a matter of weeks which were settled immediately by O2 but never repaid by their "ghost" owners.
Police believe a gang of West African fraudsters bought the iPhones and contracts from high street stores using dodgy credit cards and false identities.
The handsets were sold to a middleman and delivered to him by a ring of up to 29 corrupt delivery drivers in Wiltshire, Somerset and Northamptonshire and the Birmingham-based middleman then split the Sim cards and handsets in what criminals dub "box breaking".
The Sim cards were then sold to a London and Essex-based crime gang responsible for the premium phone line swindle.