Police officers in Manchester city centre arrested a man in a hotel yesterday after an estimated 26,000 fraudulent text messages purporting to be a delivery company were sent in one day.
Our PCSOs attended a hotel on Charles Street at around 3.30pm on Thursday 17 June 2021 after hotel staff reported suspicious activity by a man seen with a large amount of cables in a bag.
The man’s hotel room was then found to equipment in the room that officers were able to establish can be used as part of a text message scam to defraud people – known as phishing.
A 21-year-old man from Manchester was arrested at the scene on suspicion of fraud by misrepresentation. He remains in custody for questioning.
Detectives from our City of Manchester Central division and Cybercrime Team have seized electronic equipment and a car as part of their enquiries.
It is estimated that yesterday alone around 26,000 text messages had already been sent from the devices purporting to be from Hermes asking for bank details after a missed delivery.
A total of 44,000 mobile phone contacts are also believed to have been stored on the devices.
An investigation is underway and police are reminding the public to be aware and vigilant of such attempted mobile scams.
Detective Inspector Mark Astbury, of GMP’s City of Manchester Central division, said: “What we have uncovered here are potentially the components of a highly sophisticated and authentic scam that I know many people not just in Greater Manchester but across the country have been potential victims of in recent weeks and months.
“We have a man in custody and various items of potential evidence that we have seized and this is due to the initiative of the hotel staff, who acted on their suspicions, and the subsequent response from our neighbourhood officers in the city centre.
“These are the very early stages of what promises to be a complex and dynamic investigation, and I would like to take the opportunity to remind the public to ensure they keep remaining alert to the daily risks that unscrupulous cyber criminals pose to them by sending these fraudulent messages.”
If you have received an email which you’re not quite sure about, forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS): firstname.lastname@example.org
Details can be passed anonymously to the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.