Police make multiple arrests in UK-wide crackdown on scam texts

Police have made 8  arrests following operations targeting individuals suspected of sending out “smishing” texts, which aim to steal personal information and financial details by directing recipients to fake versions of trusted organisations’ websites, such as the Royal Mail

The arrests formed part of a week of action led by officers from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), a specialist City of London and Metropolitan police unit funded by the banking and cards industry, in partnership with Royal Mail and the telecoms industry. Eight operations were conducted across London, Coventry, Birmingham and Colchester resulting in eight male suspects being arrested on suspicion of fraud.
The suspects arrested during the operations are believed to have been involved in sending out scam texts primarily posing as Royal Mail, which claim the recipient needs to pay an outstanding postage fee for a parcel or input their details to rearrange a delivery.

“The success of these operations shows how through our close collaboration with Royal Mail, the financial services sector, and mobile phone networks, we are cracking down on the criminals ruthlessly targeting the public,” said detective chief inspector Gary Robinson, the head of DCPCU.

Often these phishing messages contain a link to a fake version of a legitimate website that asks for usernames and passwords or even bank details. There’s been a large rise in SMS phishing attacks over the past few months, particularly with messages claiming to be from a delivery company, as many people have been doing more online shopping during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MORE THAN 20 BILLION TEXT MESSAGES ARE SENT EVERY DAY IN THE UNITED STATES.

A growing number of texts are from thieves trying to scam you. They can send millions of smishing texts at the same time. And because smartphone users are three times more likely to fall for fake text messages than computer users are to fall for fake email messages, text message scams are on the rise.

A common smishing tactic is to send a text warning about a fake problem with one of your accounts and ask for your information. Some scammers will pitch offers too good to be true or even promise free gift cards or trips. Do NOT respond! You may get malware or become an identity theft victim.

PROTECT YOUR PHONE NUMBER

Don’t click on links in suspicious text; they could install malware on your device or take you to a site that does the same. 

Don’t share your phone number unless you know the person or organization well. 

Don’t assume a text is legitimate because it comes from a familiar phone number or area code.  Spammers use caller ID Spoofing to make it appear the text is from a trusted or local source.  

Don’t reply, even if the message says you can “text STOP” to avoid more messages.  That tells the scammer or spammer your number is active and can be sold to other bad actors.  

Don’t provide personal or financial information in response to the unsolicited text or at a website linked to the message. 

Do forward all questionable texts to 7726 (SPAM), so wireless carriers can investigate and block that sender. 

Do Report scam texts to the Federal Communications Commission online; by phone 888-225-5322; or by mail: FCC Consumer Complaints, 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington, DC 20554.