A teenager has been arrested on suspicion of computer hacking, blackmail and fraud.
A 16-year-old boy was arrested after detectives from Titan, along with officers from Merseyside Police, executed a Computer Misuse Act warrant at 7.30am at a house, where the teen lives with his family.
Detectives from Titan’s cyber-crime unit are investigating allegations that someone hacked into another person’s Instagram account, gained control of it and tried to blackmail them in order to get their account back.
Cyber-crime investigators are also looking at allegations that an online shopping account was accessed by another person and a delivery of electronic goods were re-directed to another address, effectively stealing them.
Computer equipment and other electronic devices were seized from the house in Croxteth, Liverpool, and will be analysed by specialist officers from Titan, which is the North-west’s regional organised crime unit.
Detective Chief Superintendent Chris Green, the head of Titan, said: “This investigation shows the importance of people making sure they take the right precautions to protect themselves while using the Internet. People sometimes don’t use strong passwords or don’t change them as regularly as they should which makes it easier for cyber criminals to gain access to accounts.
“It’s also important to make sure that phones, tablets and computers are all using the most up-to-date operating software and the latest anti-virus software. These are simple things that we can all do to make it more difficult for cyber criminals to hack into our social media and banking accounts to commit crime.
“Our on-going enquiry centres on the alleged blackmailing of someone in another part of the country whose Instagram account, with many thousands of followers, was hacked and taken control of by someone else. The victim then received messages from the offender asking for a ransom to be paid in return for access to their Instagram account being given back.
“Another allegation which is possibly related is the hacking of someone’s online shopping account whereby goods were re-directed to another person’s address.
“Cyber-crime is increasingly common with criminals turning to the Internet to commit the same kinds of offences as traditionally would be committed in the real world such as theft, blackmail and fraud. As we now all spend more and more of our daily lives online, we need to take the same precautions and care about our personal details as we would on the street. If we all changed our passwords more regularly, made them more intricate and harder to crack, and updated our phone, tablet and computer security whenever we get prompted to then we would make it far harder for cyber criminals to target us.
“At Titan we have the capabilities and expertise to investigate this kind of crime in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies and my message to cyber criminals is that you may think you can hide on the Internet and remain anonymous but the reality is that you can’t.”
The 16-year-old remains in police custody at this time.
If you have been the victim of online fraud then report it to Action Fraud (http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/) or 0300 123 2040 or to your local police force on 101.