Soca socking it to cybercriminals

The United Kingdom's Serious Organized Crime Agency (Soca) has revealed some of its crime fighting successes over the last year.

Soca's annual report, published Wednesday, details a year of fighting e-crime, from leading the U.K. operation to shut down the online forum DarkMarket and hunting the gang who tried to electronically transfer more than 229 million pounds (US$347 million) from a London-based bank.

The agency worked with the FBI to secure nearly 60 arrests in connection with the DarkMarket forum--where stolen credit card and banking details were traded-helping to save more than US$70 million in potential losses. Soca is working on recovering compromized cards, having recovered more than 16,000 to date.

Soca also tracked down the gang who tried to transfer the US$347 million from the Sumitomo Matsui Banking Corporation in London--the United Kingdom's largest attempted bank theft.

As part of a global effort against Nigerian 419 and other mass marketing scams, which cost the United Kingdom 340 million pounds (US$515 million) each year, Soca also worked with Nigerian authorities to intercept fraudulent mail targeting the United Kingdom.

It led to the arrest of a U.K. group member and Soca intercepting 20,000 responses from victims of the scams, with the agency pledging to return money to anybody tricked by the con.

Interception of telephone calls and communications data continues to play a role in all significant operations, the report says, with new systems deployed and plans to work closely with the Home Office on future improvements under the Interception Modernization Program.

Soca also made significant progress in sharing data on criminals, embedding IT systems and staff in police-led regional intelligence units.

Investing in "technology-enabled self support" helped deliver 1.5 million pounds (US$2.27 million) in savings to the agency. Soca's wider IT was also being overhauled with the integration of two legacy IT networks, the replacement of Soca's inherited major IT and logistics service contracts. Work also began on Project Kerno, which will improve its core records management capability and drive an IT transformation program to reduce costs and provide modern functionality.

The report praises Soca's achievements over the year: "Its workforce was expressing a growing confidence in its ability to make a real difference for our citizens using the full range of the operational tools at the agency's disposal."