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Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 10:00 pm PT (01:00 am ET)

UK Police bust global iPhone crime ring

City of London detectives have arrested 9 suspected members of a fraud conspiracy involving thousands of stolen iPhones and millions of pounds worth of fraudulent phone charges.

In a series of raids Wednesday, police seized numerous phones, SIM cards, fake passports and evidence of an extensive and sophisticated network of criminal activity, The Telegraph reports. 9 suspects, aged 18-42, were arrested in the operation.

The month-long investigation began after criminals stole over £1.2 million from mobile telecom provider O2 in July. The crime ring used SIM cards and automated dialers to call premium-rate phone lines, which charge up to £10 a minute.

Using fraudulent credit cards and identities, the gang purchased thousands of iPhones and contracts. A middleman would then sell the SIM cards to phone scammers and ship the handsets overseas for resale, taking advantage of the UK's practice of heavily subsidizing cell phones. The iPhones fetch prices of up to £450 abroad.

At one home, police confiscated £15,000-worth of iPhones still in their boxes.