Metropolitan Police has announced that it will be sending text messages to 70,000 people across the UK who may have been targeted by fraudsters. The scammers have used a sophisticated online tool to spoof the phone numbers of legitimate companies such as banks.
The Met told Money Saving Expert website that those being contacted have been identified as potential victims of so-called ‘number spoofing’ fraud. The text will be sent specifically to victims who may have been caught out by an online tool, known as iSpoof, which enabled criminals to appear as if they were calling from banks, tax offices and other official bodies while attempting to defraud people.
The Met says more than 200,000 potential victims in the UK alone have been directly targeted through iSpoof, with 70,000 of them linked to an identified suspect. If you receive the text you will likely have been called over the phone from a fraudster pretending to be from your bank.
iSpoof has allowed its criminal users, who paid for the service in the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, to disguise their phone number so it appeared as if they were calling from a trusted source. This process is known as ‘spoofing’.
In many cases of scamming, the people targeting you already have access to your private information and will likely have been obtained via the dark web. Scammers may try to gain your trust by mentioning transactions you have legitimately made. However, they will often mention one you haven’t made to make you think you have already been scammed and will ask you to help them move your money to a ‘safe’ account. This is often how you know you’re dealing with a scammer.
You may be contacted regardless of where you live in the UK, not just in London. So, how do you know if your text message from the Met Police is real? Here’s everything you need to know about the action.
How to tell if you’re Met Police text message is genuine
The Money Saving Expert website revealed the two key points that will help you decide whether the text you receive is genuine or not. They are as follows:
- You will ONLY receive the message on November 24 or November 25, 2022. If you receive a text like this outside of this 48-hour window, it could be a scam and should be ignored.
- The message will ask you to visit the Met Police website at met.police.uk/elaborate but, crucially, it will NOT contain a direct link. Scam texts often invite you to follow a link by tapping to open it, so to help distinguish this as a legitimate message, the Met Police won’t be linking directly to its website.
What to do if you get a text from the Met Police?
If you receive a text message from the Met Police November 24 or November 25, you may want to consider independently visiting the website address given by Metropolitan Police to file a report and help the investigation.
If you provide information to the Met Police via its website or to Action Fraud you may be contacted again by police officers to provide a victim statement and evidence. However, there is no guarantee you will get any money back. The Met has said it is looking to use the ‘Proceeds of Crime Act’ to try to recover stolen funds.
What to do if you think you’ve been scammed?
If you think you are being scammed, hang up the phone immediately and independently search for your bank’s contact details to inform your bank of any suspicious activity.