Nine people have been arrested in London as the authorities scrambled to stop a premium number scam that may have cost O2 hundreds of thousands of pounds.
The scheme was devilishly simple and involved using dozens of iPhone devices costing £599 each.
They were duly registered and then used to make calls on premium line numbers charging up to £10 per minute; these numbers were owned by the same gang of criminals.
Because O2 paid immediately the service providers, it was left with heavy losses - up to £1.2 million according to some estimates - as the criminals used fake identities to purchase of the handsets.
These were purchased using stolen credit cards and most likely on a contract, which means that the initial outlay for the phones was possibly less than £2000.
Once used, the iPhones were then passed on to another gang whose role was to sell them. O2 was not able to recover any costs because the identities were fake ones in the first place.
Around £15,000 worth of phones have been seized by the authorities with a number of fake documents, laptops, bank cards, passports, hundreds of SIM cards.
It is claimed that up to 1000 phones have been used by the criminals and that other networks may well have been targeted as well. There are also reports pointing to the fact that the gang was involved in other scams.