updated 12/9/2011 11:49:16 AM ET 2011-12-09T16:49:16

British police arrested six people for orchestrating a phishing scam that stole more than $1.5 million from students throughout the United Kingdom.

The suspects are accused of targeting students with emails claiming to have important student-loan information from the U.K. government's Students Loan Company. Victims of the scam were told to click on a link in the phishing email; the link directed them to a malicious website operated by the alleged crooks, who used it to gain access to the victims' bank accounts and steal between £1000 and £5000 ($1,500 - $7,800) at a time.

"A great deal of personal information was compromised and cleverly exploited for substantial profits," Detective Inspector Mark Raymond from the Metropolitan Police Service's Central e-Crime Unit said in a press release. "We have today disrupted a suspected organized group of cybercriminals and prevented further loss to individuals and institutions in the U.K."

The suspects, four men and two women, were arrested yesterday (Dec. 8) on charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering. Police, who began the investigation in August, also seized computers and removable data-storage devices from addresses in London, Manchester and Bolton, England.

It's important to be skeptical of any unsolicited emails, especially ones that instruct you to click on links that take you to other Web pages. Just because an email appears to come from a legitimate source like a government organization does not mean you should let down your guard and blindly accept it as safe.

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