18 Apr 2024

Police target LabHost platform users in global operation

6:42 pm on 18 April 2024
Seized phones as part of raids at multiple properties across Australia.

Police said they seized items as part of raids at multiple properties across Australia in an operation targeting LabHost platform users. Photo: Supplied / Australian Federal Police

Police have sized devices they believe were used as part of a cybercrime operation, which targeted thousands of people across the world.

New Zealand Police, working in partnership with Europol, searched three properties in Tāmaki Makaurau in relation to Operation Camperdown on Wednesday.

Police alleged LabHost enabled users to operate "phishing kit" websites, which imitate the websites of real online services to trick people via text or email into providing their banking, password or other online account credentials.

"Offenders then use this information to fraudulently obtain funds or property," Cybercrime Investigator Detective Sergeant Richard Briscoe said.

Since 2022, European law enforcement agencies had been gathering intelligence on LabHost, including data relating to the users of the platform.

In a joint statement by Australia's state and federal police, they said five people in the country had been arrested and 32 overseas as part of the operation, including four based in the United Kingdom who were linked to the running of the site, including the original developer of the platform.

They believed the phishing scam had affected more than 94,000 people in Australia.

New Zealand Police said they identified three suspected LabHost users.

"The searches were successful, with a number of computers, other electronic devices and documents seized."

The items would be analysed as part of the ongoing investigations, Briscoe said.

Australian police officers carry out a search warrant in relation to investigations into the LabHost plaform.

Police issued 22 search warrants across Australia. Photo: Supplied / Australian Federal Police

Australian police also said they had seized devices which would undergo forensic examination.

They believed users in the country were among the top three for the platform.

In addition to the takedown of the LabHost's domain, Australian police took down 207 criminal servers.

LabHost is believed to have originated in Canada in 2021, targeting North America, and expanded to the UK and Ireland, before going global.

Australian police claim LabHost had more than 40,000 phishing domains and more than 10,000 global active cybercriminals using its technology at the time of the global police takedown.

New Zealand Police said they could not rule out further arrests and investigations were ongoing.

If you believe you are the victim of a scam, you can report it to police at 105.police.govt.nz or via their 105 phone service. Information can also be provided anonymously via Crime Stoppers on 0800 555 111.

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