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UK police arrest six in student loan phishing scam

The group allegedly sent e-mails asking students to update their accounts, then withdrew money from their accounts

U.K. police arrested six people on Thursday for allegedly running a phishing scam that stole an estimated £1.6 million (US$2.6 million) from victims who had taken out student loans.

The group is alleged to have sent out e-mails asking people to update details on their student loan accounts, providing a link to a website that purported to be legitimate, according to the Police Central e-Crime Unit, part of the Metropolitan Police Service.

Using the information, the gang then allegedly transferred between £1,000 and £5,000 at a time from students' bank accounts. Police began investigating the scam in August, saying a great deal of personal information was "cleverly" exploited.

Four men and two women were arrested and are being held in custody after search warrants were executed in London, Manchester and Bolton, police said. They could face charges of conspiracy to defraud, violation of the Computer Misuse Act and money laundering.

Police will examine computers and storage media seized in the searches. The investigation was carried out in cooperation with banks, ISPs and the Student Loan Company, a nonprofit organization that provides loans and grants to U.K. students, police said.

The group is suspected of stealing £1.6 million, a Scotland Yard spokesman said Friday.

The group has not been charged yet. When they are charged, police will seek to freeze proceeds believed to have come from the scam. If they are convicted, the money will be recovered using the Proceeds of Crime Act, the spokesman said.

Those arrested were a 25-year-old male in Deptford, 26-year-old male and 25-year-old woman in Manchester, a 49-year-old woman and 31-year-old male in Stratford, London, and a 38-year-old male in Bolton. Their names were not released.

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