Dawn raids catch 9 for massive iPhone 'fraud'
£1.3m worth of SIM skulduggery
Eight men and one woman were arrested during dawn raids this morning at addresses across the UK connected to an alleged million-pound phone fraud.
The complex fraud allegedly involved the purchase of iPhones using dodgy credit cards. The gang then passed SIM cards on to others who used them to rack up massive phone bills calling international premium rate numbers under their control. The lines charged up to £10 a minute.
O2 settled these bills before trying, and failing, to recoup payment from the supposed customers. So the gang got paid for the lengthy calls to premium rate lines, and still had a lot of expensive iPhones to sell on.
O2 lost £1.2m in July alone, PA reports. The fraud ran for five months. A West African gang stole the phones and contracts which were then passed to another gang for 'box breaking' - splitting SIMs and handsets.
City of London Police, which is the UK's lead force for fraud investigations, raided nine addresses in London, Essex, Middlesbrough and the West Midlands. Eight men and one woman were arrested, aged 42, 34, 32, 32, 28, 26, 22, 21 and 18, on suspicion of conspiracy.
About £15,000 of phones were seized, most still in their boxes but with SIM cards removed. Fake documents, laptops, hundreds of SIMs and fake documents were also seized.
Detective Superintendent Bob Wishart, from the City of London Police, said officers had struck at the heart of a complex network attempting to steal millions of pounds from the telecoms industry.
He said: "Our investigation found a crime gathering momentum. Each month more SIM cards were being used to make more phone calls to premium rate lines at more expense to the network provider."
Wishart said cooperation with O2 showed the benefits of police forces working with private firms.
Adrian Goreham, fraud manager at O2, said the company was extremely pleased its own investigation and information uncovered and shared with the police had resulted in arrests.
The City of London police statement is here. ®
Premium rates = scam
Premium rate phone numbers are a scam. The idea that it is possible to run up large bills in a few minutes by dialling (deliberately or not) a phone number attracts fraudsters in large numbers.
If it's not out and out criminal activity like this story, it's misleading advertising and deliberately extended recorded message or trojans calling out without the owner's knowledge.
0845/0870 numbers are bad enough (try saynoto0870.com if you don't like them) but premium rate numbers are a disaster waiting to happen - they should not exist.
O2 payup first ..
You'll note that O2 paid up the £10/min charges to the premium line holders AND THEN went hunting for the client to pay them back.
You'd think that the reverse would be true.
O2 deserve it as it was their anti customer policy that caused this, no?
When we read about extortionate bills for roaming data being racked up by teenagers on holiday with Mum & Dad, the first question asked is why did the telco allow the bill to rack up so much before stopping it. The reason is to make money, but of course that is never stated.
This time due to their policy of "allow bills to rack up to any size then chase the customer" has back fired as there is no customer and they have to foot the bill.
So, if they were just a little more human and reasonable about letting people run up bills they would not be in this mess!!!!!