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Featured Image Credit: CPS
A computer science student has been sentenced to 22 months in prison for sending out scam text messages purporting to be from a range of organisations, including Royal Mail, HMRC, banks and mobile phone providers.
Abdisalaam Dahir, 20, pleaded guilty to committing fraud by false representation, for being in possession of articles for use in fraud, and money laundering offences, following a successful investigation by the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU).
Intelligence work by the DCPCU and a mobile phone provider identified that Dahir was involved in sending large-scale 'smishing' text message campaigns to defraud the public which could have resulted in a potential loss of over £180,000.
His arrest formed part of a week of action in May 2021 led by officers against individuals suspected of committing smishing scams.
Between 1 December 2019 and 20 May 2021, Dahir sent fraudulent text messages claiming to be from a wide range of trusted organisations including the 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.
In addition to this, officers discovered £10,650 in cash that was under the defendant's bed. Police also seized and examined Dahir's digital devices only to find that they contained personal details from hundreds of victims.
Smishing is when fraudsters obtain personal details of a victim by SMS text messages, while phishing is a method used by fraudsters to access similar valuable personal details, such as usernames and passwords via a fake website.
Alexander White from the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said: " At a time when the country was 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 and 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."