The City of London Police have arrested 13 people in relation to a multi-million investment scam.
Earlier this morning, a nationwide fraud operation with 120 police officers across England arrested the men on suspicion of defraud and money laundering.
The gang behind the alleged fraud is believed to have run four boiler rooms, cold-calling people to sell them investments in gold leasing and airtime minutes in mobile phone operators through fraudulent companies called Demmore Ltd, Simply Airtime, S+E Future and Vodacell.
Following information from BBC Radio 4 programme ‘You and Yours’ detectives traced the suspects arrested today through bank accounts believed to have been set-up by the gang to receive and launder the stolen funds, most of which has either been withdrawn in cash or transferred overseas.
The City of London police said more than 100 people had fallen for the scam with losses of £2.8 million.
The men have been taken to local police stations for questioning, with a number of business documents and mobile phones siezed.
Teresa Russell, detective inspector for the City of London Police, said: ‘Disrupting and apprehending organised crime gangs running investment frauds in both the UK and overseas continues to be a major priority for City of London Police.
‘Victims were cold-called by this gang to invest their money in gold leasing and airtime, on the promise of quick and large returns. The stark contrast is that these investment schemes appear to be scams and we suspect those arrested as part of today’s police operation laundered the missing millions for their own or others benefit,’ she said.
In the past few years, the City of London Police has investigated investment frauds involving shares, carbon credits, land, diamonds and gold that have taken hundreds of millions of pounds from tens of thousands of victims.
In February an international operation involving Spanish, American and Serbian police saw 110 suspects arrested across Europe and North America and criminal assets seized worth £500,000.
Detective chief superintendent Dave Clark, who heads up the City of London Police’s Economic Crime Directorate, said: 'As the national policing Lead for fraud we specialise in major and complex operations involving organised crime gangs running multi-million pound investment frauds.
'Thanks to the support of nine police forces our investigation into these fraudulent companies has taken a significant step forward and investors around the UK are that little bit safer.'