Five people have been arrested on suspicion of cybercrime offences following an investigation by officers from the Kent and Essex Serious Crime Directorate.

The case reportedly relates to the alleged hacking of a Tunbridge Wells firm in April this year, which resulted in one of its clients losing £25,000 after receiving a fraudulent email.

Officers believe access was gained to the firm's database through malware sent from an Internet address based in Kent, which is also believed to have been hacked.

Kent Police told IBTimes UK that the suspects will now be held for up to 24 hours after which a decision will have to be made regarding charges or bail terms.

Warrants were executed at a number of addresses in London, Essex and Dorset on the morning of Thursday 12 October 2017, Kent Police said in a statement.

Five suspects – two under the age of 18 - stand accused of computer misuse crimes and money laundering.

A 32-year-old woman from Thamesmead in south-east London was arrested on suspicion of an offence under Section 2 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

The other suspects, each accused of money laundering charges, include a 19-year-old woman from Dorset and three individuals from Grays, Essex, including one 36-year-old woman, one 17-year-old boy and one 17-year-old girl. None of the suspects have been named.

The investigation is currently being led by Kent detectives from its cybercrime unit in partnership with officers who specialise in money-laundering offences.

Officers from a cybercrime team based at Essex Police were also involved in the warrants.

"Growing threat"

Detective Inspector Jon Faulkner said: "There has been a noticeable increase in the number of online offences reported to us in the last few years, which has resulted in the creation of the cybercrime unit to respond to this growing threat.

"We are committed to identifying and investigating digital offences and will disrupt those responsible by making arrests, seizing equipment and bringing prosecutions."

No further details about the hack attack at the Tunbridge Wells company are publicly available at the time of writing.

The exact type of malware used in the cyberattack has not yet been named by the investigators however officials said that it appeared to be posing as a legitimate business invoice.