Six people have been arrested in connection with a £1 million phishing scam that drained the bank accounts of hundreds of UK students, Scotland Yard has said.
A criminal network targeted students on government loan schemes, luring them into revealing their bank account details which were then used to withdraw amounts of between £1,000 and £5,000 at a time.
The fraudsters had sent emails inviting students to update details on their student account via a link to a bogus website that was actually run by criminals.
The Metropolitan Police's e-Crime unit was first alerted to the scam in August 2011 and worked with the Students Loan Company, the banking industry and internet service providers during their investigation.
On Thursday, they seized computers and other equipment from addresses in London, Manchester and Bolton.
Those arrested were a 26-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman who were both arrested in Manchester, a 25-year-old man who was arrested in Deptford, south London, a 49-year-old woman and a 31-year-old man who were arrested in Stratford, north-east London, and a 38-year-old man who was arrested in Bolton, Lancashire.
Detective Inspector Mark Raymond from the e-crime unit said: "A great deal of personal information was compromised and cleverly exploited for substantial profits. We have today disrupted a suspected organised group of cyber criminals and prevented further loss to individuals and institutions in the UK.
"Today's arrests demonstrate what can be achieved when a partnership approach is adopted to investigate internet-based crime."
The suspects, who were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud and Computer Misuse Act and money laundering offences, were being held at police stations in central London, Manchester and Bolton on Thursday night.