North London man scammed victims out of almost £200k with fake Covid grant texts

A North London man scammed victims out of almost £200k with texts claiming they may be eligible for a Covid grant.

Abdisalaam Dahir, 20, sent out bulk text messages claiming to be from various organisations including HMRC, Royal Mail, Nationwide, HSBC, THREE and EE.

The victims were then directed to fake websites where they were asked for personal financial information, including their bank details.

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One of the scams claimed to be from HMRC and suggested victims might be eligible for a Covid grant.

The Enfield resident is estimated to have gained around £185,265.76 from the scams.

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Police also found £10,650 in cash under Dahir’s bed.

Dahir’s methods are known as smishing, when fraudsters obtain personal details of a victim by SMS text messages, and phishing, where fraudsters access similar details through a fake website.

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 online 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.”

Dahir 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. He was found guilty on July 16.

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