Denton man questioned in cyber crime investigation

A DENTON man has been arrested but not charged for offences contrary to the Computer Misuse Act.It followed the execution of 85 warrants across Europe in relation to a cyber crime site which sold a hacking tool.

The 23-year-old man from Denton was a suspected user of the device.

The website, which sold a hacking tool purchased by cyber criminals in 124 countries and gave full remote control of victims’ computers, has been taken down following an international investigation.

It has been reported 14,500 people across the world purchased the Imminent Monitor Remote Access Trojan (IM RAT) from for as little as $25.

Once covertly installed on a victim’s computer, IM RAT allowed the hacker full access to the infected device, enabling them to disable anti-virus software, steal data or passwords, record keystrokes and watch victims via their webcams.

The international operation was led by the Australian Federal Police (AFP) with the North West Regional Organised Crime Unit (NWROCU) leading the UK investigation and UK activity co-ordinated and supported by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

On Monday, November 25 an international week of action commenced with enforcement activity across nine countries targeting sellers and users of the tool.

Eight of the 21 search warrants executed across the UK were in Greater Manchester.

Those warrants led to the recovery of more than 100 exhibits and 14 people arrested or interviewed on suspicion of offences contrary to the Computer Misuse Act.

Europe-wide there were 85 warrants executed, with more than 400 items seized.

In the North West, the following arrests were made:
• A 27-year-old man, from Parr, St Helens, who can not be named for legal reasons, was charged and later convicted of three offences contrary to the Computer Misuse Act and three offences contrary to the Sexual Offences Act. He will appear at Liverpool Crown Court on December 23 for sentencing
• A 24-year-old man from Leigh was arrested for offences contrary to the Computer Misuse Act
• A 23-year-old man from Denton was arrested for offences contrary to the Computer Misuse Act
• A 36-year-old man from Farnworth was arrested for offences contrary to the Computer Misuse Act.

Australian police effected a takedown of the website on Friday, November 29. The IM RAT tool can no longer be used by those that bought it.

Phil Larratt, from the NCA, said: “Working with the NWROCU, AFP and a range of international and European partners we were able to support the takedown of a website that was distributing malware and facilitating hacking offences.

“The IM RAT was used by individuals and organised crime groups in the UK to commit a range of offences beyond just the Computer Misuse Act, including fraud, theft and money laundering.

“Cyber criminals who bought this tool for as little as $25 were able to commit serious criminality, remotely invading the privacy of unsuspecting victims and stealing sensitive data.”

Chief Constable Andy Cooke, QPM, National Lead for Crime said: “Cyber Crime is increasingly part of the serious and organised crime landscape and this example of international coordinated law enforcement activity shows the UK’s absolute commitment to tackling this constantly evolving threat.”

Detective Inspector Andy Milligan, from the NWROCU, said: “This has been a complex, challenging cyber investigation with international scope.

“The illicit use of IM RAT is akin to a cyber burglary, with criminals stealing data, including images and movies, secretly turning on webcams, monitoring keystrokes and listening in to people’s conversations via computer microphones.

“People should protect themselves by following National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) advice, ensuring operating systems are always up to date, that they use anti-virus and they don’t click on links or attachments in suspicious emails.”

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