he targeted those who may have suffered financially
Abdisalaam Dahir, aged 20, has been convicting of scamming victims out of more than £185,000 through a fake Covid-19 text scam.
At Inner London Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to fraud by false representation, possessing articles for use in fraud and money laundering.
According to police, £10,650 in cash was found under Dahir’s bed.
But based on the average loss and the number of victims’ personal details found in Dahir’s possession, the total potential loss was £185,265.76.
Dahir had been sending out text messages in bulk to members of the public claiming to be from various well-known organisations.
He directed victims to bogus websites where they were asked for personal financial information, including their banking details.
The fake text scam included messages that claimed to be from HMRC.
In this case, he targeted those who may have suffered financially during the Covid-19 pandemic, luring them with a message that they may be eligible for a Covid-19 grant.
Police found evidence obtained from phones and a laptop which showed that Dahir had been involved in sending bulk text messages claiming to be from other organisations.
In the messages, he asked the receiver to ‘click’ on a link within the message in order to provide more details.
Alexander White of the CPS 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 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.
“Please remember to report any incidents like this to Action Fraud.”
The Covid-19 crisis has seen an increase in HMRC-branded scams.
According to figures by accountancy group Lanop Outsourcing under the Freedom of Information Act, scammers posing as HMRC increased by 87% during the first year of the pandemic.