Preston man arrested on suspicion of fraud after police uncover mobile phone scam
A 19-year-old man from Preston has been arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering, say police.
He was arrested on Thursday (June 17) after officers obtained a warrant to search the suspect's home in Muncaster Road, Deepdale.
He has since been released under investigation.
Lancashire Police said it launched an investigation after it received a tip-off from Royal Mail and City of London Police, allegedly linking the man to mobile phone contract fraud.
The force said the investigation uncovered a scam which has been reported across the UK, with fraudsters posing as employees of mobile phone networks during cold calls to random members of the public.
Temporary detective inspector Mark Riley, of Lancashire Police, said: "Criminals involved in fraud have no place to hide in Lancashire and we will proactively target offenders who are suspected.
"We will work with partners to ensure that people do not fall victims to these scams."
What is the scam?
Lancashire Police say people are being cold called by individuals impersonating employees of legitimate mobile network operators and suppliers.
Victims are offered early handset upgrades or new contracts at significant discounts. Once customers are convinced that the deals are genuine and agree to proceed with their order, the imposters then ask for their online mobile account credentials, including logins, address and bank account details.
The scammer then places an order with a genuine company on behalf of their victims, but they select a different handset to that requested and have this shipped to the customer’s address.
Upon receipt, the fraudster assures the victims that this has been an error and instruct them to ‘return’ the handset to a different address not affiliated to the mobile company. These addresses are usually residential.
Upon intercepting the ‘returned’ handsets, the scammer then ceases contact and victims find themselves stuck with no phone and liable for the entirety of a new contract taken out in their name.
How can you avoid becoming a victim?
If you’re unsure whether the person calling you about a mobile phone or contract upgrade is an official employee of the company they claim to be from, hang up and do not reveal any personal information.
Only contact your mobile network provider on a number you know to be correct. For example, 191 for Vodafone customers, 150 for EE customers, 333 for Three customers, 202 for O2 customers, 4455 for Tesco Mobile, 789 for Virgin Mobile and 150 for Sky Mobile.
If you receive a device that you did not order or expect, contact the genuine sender immediately. The details for this will be within the parcel.
NEVER post a device directly to a given address. All genuine mobile network operators would send out a jiffy bag for you to return without you incurring additional cost.
Should you be concerned about a particular incident similar to the above, we would urge you to contact Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk
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