Police officers have arrested eight men for their alleged part in a spate of scam text messages – including the now notorious Royal Mail missed delivery fraud – following dawn raids across the Midlands and the South.
The men were arrested in Birmingham, Coventry, London and Colchester, Essex, a specialist unit of the City of London and Metropolitan Police said; a man from London was charged with three offences and the others were released under investigation.
The charged man, from Enfield, will appear at Inner London Crown Court on June 21 and faces charges of fraud by false representation; possession of articles for use in fraud; and possession of criminal property (money laundering).
The Dedicated Card & Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) said the arrests were made as part of a week of action against scam messages. Detective chief inspector Gary Robinson, head of the DCPCU, said the unit was working with Royal Mail, the financial services sector and mobile phone networks to fight the crime.
He added: “Ongoing investigations are now under way and we will continue to work together to bring those committing smishing scams to justice.”
Warnings about Royal Mail delivery scams were first issued as far back as 2015, although many of them have proved to be hoaxes.
In the run-up to Christmas 2020 – and again in February – consumers were told to be on their guard over a new email scam but now Trading Standards have said the fraudsters are using text messages instead and urging consumers not to click on a link that connects to a copycat website.
The text, claiming to be from Royal Mail, claims that “your Royal Mail parcel is awaiting delivery. Please confirm the settlement of 1.99 (GBP) on the following link”.
The message then links to a website mocked up to look like the official Royal Mail site. The page demands personal and payment details, which scammers could lead to ID theft and in the worst case scenario banking fraud.
Royal Mail has stressed it would never send a text message but would post a grey card through customers’ letterboxes instead to inform them that a fee was required and to arrange pick-up from a local sorting office.
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