Six men and six women living in the UK from Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and the Ukraine were arrested on suspicion of laundering funds from bank accounts fallen victim to "phishing" scams.
Assisted by officers from the National Crime Squad, the FBI and the US Secret Service, search warrants were executed at addresses in Bermondsey, Shepherds Bush, Stoke Newington, and Ramsgate in Kent.
"We believe this gang has sent hundreds of thousands of pounds back to Russia," said Detective Superintendent Mick Deats, deputy head of the NHTCU. "This is a sophisticated operation involving false identities, and only by working together with the banking industry and other law enforcement agencies has this success been possible."
Police seized computers, passports, bankcards and crack cocaine at arrest scenes. The NHTCU said typically fraudsters behind phishing scams are located outside the UK, and as they are unable to transfer money directly out of their victims' online account overseas, they need a UK intermediary. Police said people close to Russian organized crime gangs recruited the suspects to open bank accounts where the stolen money was placed. It was then transferred minus a "commission", typically seven per cent, to Russia.