London police make ‘SMS blaster’ arrests

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London police have arrested two individuals in connection with a scheme using an “SMS blaster” to send thousands of fraudulent messages. These messages, posing as banks and official organisations, aimed to deceive the public into sharing personal information.

The investigation, believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, uncovered the use of an illegal telephone mast functioning as an “SMS blaster.” This device enabled the perpetrators to bypass mobile networks’ security measures designed to block suspicious texts.

The first arrest occurred on 9 May in Manchester, followed by a second arrest in London on 23 May. 

Huayong Xu, 32, of Alton Road, Croydon, was charged on 23 May with possession of articles for use in fraud and was remanded in custody. Xu is scheduled to appear at Inner London Crown Court on 26 June. The other suspect was released on bail.

The operation involved officers from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) in collaboration with mobile network operators, telecoms regulator Ofcom, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

Temporary Detective Chief Inspector David Vint, head of the DCPCU, highlighted the increasing sophistication of criminals in these types of fraud: “The criminals committing these types of crimes are only getting smarter, working in more complex ways to trick unknowing members of the public and steal whatever they can get their hands on. It is vital we work with partners to help prevent the public from falling victim to fraud.”

Vint also provided essential advice for the public to protect themselves: “Remember, a bank or another official authority will not ask you to share personal information over text or phone. If you think you have received a fraudulent text message, report it by forwarding it to 7726.”

Most phone providers participate in the scheme allowing customers to report suspicious texts for free by forwarding them to 7726. This enables providers to investigate and potentially block malicious senders. 

Anyone who has lost money or provided their financial information due to a scam is encouraged to notify their bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud. In Scotland, call Police Scotland on 101.

(Photo by Markus Winkler)

See also: Committee warns UK set to miss 4G coverage target

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