A CRIMINAL gang with involvement in human trafficking, modern slavery and money laundering across Essex and London fleeced a Basildon business of £162,500.

Detectives are now on the hunt for suspects involved in two linked cyber-attacks - the other being a Chelmsford school.

The school suffered a loss of just under £62,000.

Both crimes are thought to have been carried out through malware on the targeted businesses' computer systems.

Malware is a software specifically designed to disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorised access to a computer system.

The Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate has raided a number of properties across the country in relation to the crimes, which took place in September 2018.

On May 8 and May 9, detectives were joined by officers from the Eastern Regional Special Operations Unit (ERSOU) and officers from the Metropolitan Police’s Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery Team to search eleven addresses of interest in Ilford, Romford, West Drayton, Croydon, Wisbech, and Epsom.

Ten search warrants were issued at the addresses under the Proceeds of Crime Act and cash, computers, phones and banking documents have been seized.

After attending the eleventh address, officers ruled it out of the investigation.

A 25-year-old woman from Ilford was arrested on suspicion of money laundering and has since been released on bail until June 3.

Another woman, from south west London, agreed to be interviewed voluntarily.

At three of the addresses in the Ilford and Romford areas, more than 20 eastern Europeans, mostly Romanian nationals, were spoken to by officers from the Metropolitan Police and safeguarded following concerns of modern slavery and human trafficking offences.

Detective Inspector Ian Collins, of the Kent and Essex Cyber Crime Unit, said: “We’ve worked very closely with neighbouring and regional forces to execute these warrants and further our investigations into these cyber-attacks.

“This is an incredibly complex investigation and we will continue to seek out individuals who we believe may have benefited from the proceeds of crime, or exploited others in order to do so.”