Gotcha! Man guilty of Royal Mail and HMRC text fraud

text2A Covid-19 fraudster, who sent thousands of marketing scam text messages to members of the public claiming to be from various well known organisations has been found guilty for using fake digital messages to trick people into providing personal banking details.

Abdisalaam Dahir, who is just 20, pleaded guilty to charges of fraud by false representation, possessing articles for the use in fraud and money laundering at the Inner London Crown Court.

Based on the average loss to victims of “phishing” fraud and the number of victims’ personal details found in the defendant’s possession, the total potential loss was £185,265.76.

Dahir’s bulk text messages directed victims to fake websites where they were asked for personal financial information, including their banking details.

Notably, messages that claimed to be from HMRC sought to attract victims to provide personal details by claiming that may be eligible for a Covid-19 grant, targeting those who may have suffered due to the pandemic.

The police found evidence obtained from phones and a laptop which demonstrated that Dahir had been involved in sending bulk SMS messages purporting to be from other organisations including Royal Mail, Nationwide, HSBC, Three and EE, asking the receiver to ‘click’ on a weblink within the message in order to provide more details, thereby passing sensitive details which can be used in ongoing fraud, to him.

Detectives even found a £10,650 stash of cash under the defendant’s bed.

Alexander White, a specialist prosecutor for the CPS Specialist Fraud Division, said: “At a time when the country is looking to COVID-19 grants to help the desperate in our society financially survive this pandemic, Dahir was seeking to exploit this by prising vital personal financial information from vulnerable victims.

“Criminals are increasingly using sophisticated on-line methods to try and extract information and money from unsuspecting members of the public. We need to be agile in our response to these phishing and smishing threats and our new Economic Crime Strategy will allow us to adapt and enhance our capability.

“Working closely with experts from the City of London police’s Dedicated Card & Payment Crime Unit, we have brought a rapid close to Dahir’s fraudulent operation. Hopefully, this sends a message out to other fraudsters and reassures the public that work is underway to prevent it happening. Please remember to report any incidents like this to Action Fraud.”

Sentence will be passed at a later date.

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