A group of high tech hackers were sentenced to over 13 years in prison last week for using a Trojan computer virus to steal hundreds of thousands of pounds from UK bank accounts.
The gang is believed to have been based in eastern Europe and using servers in countries across the continent to spread the virus.
The virus would wait until the customer logged onto their online bank account and then create a new payee on the account without their knowledge.
Funds were then transferred to an seperate account from which it was withdrawn by a number of money "mules". The mule were given their cut and the money was sent back to eastern Europe and Russia via money transfer wires.
Detective Constable Kevin Brocklesby from the Met Police Central e-crime Unit
"This was a complex investigation which certainly involves other people in Russia, but there was a clear structure to the organisation in the UK."
In order to withdraw the stolen cash, the gang had to obtain UK bank accounts into which to deposit the funds – which they bought from third parties.
Azamat Rahmonov, Shohruh Fayziev and Joao Dos Santos Cruz were charged with conspiracy to defraud various financial organisations and money laundering, while Paulo Jorgi and Edgar Orlando Henriques pleaded guilty to money laundering offences.
The operation was carried out by the Met's new Police Central e-crime Unit in conjunction with the banks.
The conviction will please members of the business community and academia who called for the creation of such a central unit to plug the gap left by the absorption of the National Hi-tech Crime Unit into the Serious and Organised Crime Agency in April 2006.
The ACPO lead for e-crime, Assistant Commissioner Janet Williams, said: "Due to effective partnerships with the financial industry we have successfully closed down an international criminal network and reduced the financial harm to institutions and thousands of UK victims by millions of pounds."