Eight people have been arrested in the UK in connection to a text message scam ring. The men were arrested from locations across the country in early-morning raids, with several already being released pending further investigation into their activities. One of the men is facing charges related to the scam, which saw the con men posing as delivery services to steal personal information.
The scam the ring was running is a common one, often seen in the US and UK alike. The con men behind the scam use electronic tools to send out a mass number of text messages to every active number they can find on the internet. The texts include a phony notice that the victim has a package that they need to pay a fee to have delivered.
Unsuspecting victims who follow the included link to pay the bogus fee will be redirected to a website made to look like the Royal Mail’s site. There, they’ll be prompted to enter their personal information, including credit card info, address, name, birth date, and other relevant information that scammers can then use to commit identity theft.
And, of course, the scammers were pocketing the “fees” that their marks were paying to have their fake packages delivered.
The authorities scooped the suspects up across the UK in a series of sweeping operations on Monday morning. The operations were the result of close collaboration between numerous police departments and a specialist unit, the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit.
Gary Robinson, the head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit, told reporters: “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.
“Ongoing investigations are now underway and we will continue to work together to bring those committing smishing scams to justice.”
One of the men apprehended by authorities has been remanded for a June court date. The others have been released pending further investigation into their involvement (or lack thereof) in the scam. Part of the investigation includes determining which of the men were in possession of the electronics required to send the mass numbers of text messages required to make the scam profitable.
Without that hardware, law enforcement has conceded, it is difficult to make a case against someone. In the meantime, make sure you’re vigilant when you’re putting your personal information into any website’s forms: you never know who might be reading that info on the other end.