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A scammer who sent fake NHS text messages to people waiting for his vaccination offer so they could steal their personal information has been jailed for more than four years.
Teige Gallagher, 21, from north London, allegedly sent fraudulent messages from various organizations, including banks and mobile operators.
Their “phishing” scam used links to direct potential victims to bogus websites designed to trick them into entering their account details and personal information that could be used to commit fraud.
The texts, which claimed to be from the NHS, told recipients details were needed to determine if they qualified for the Covid bite.
Following the seizure of Gallagher’s equipment, detectives uncovered thousands of phone numbers and other personal information of members of the public.
He was able to send the texts for a period of at least five months between October and March.
Gallagher was identified as the sender by an anti-fraud service thanks to the intelligence work of a mobile operator.
Scammer jailed after posing as NHS vaccine service to collect personal details: Teige Gallagher, 21, designed fake texts designed to trick people waiting for the jab into handing over financial information. https://t.co/wcxWiP1PIz pic.twitter.com/CdXiLkqiE7
— @lastminutenews Your Success is our Victory (@lastminutesnews) May 19, 2021
Chief Detective Inspector Gary Robinson, Head of Dedicated Card and Payment Crimes (DCPCU), said: “Gallagher mistakenly thought he could get away with sending fraudulent text messages, including those related to the Covid-19 vaccine to commit fraud.
“The DCPCU will continue to crack down on those who seek to take advantage of this pandemic to defraud the public by working closely with the CPS, mobile companies and the banking industry.
“Criminals are adept at masquerading as reputable organizations like the NHS, banks or the government, and will try to alleviate people’s financial worries during this difficult time.
Police have urged the public to be alert to criminals who profit from the vaccine release via text messages, emails and cold calls.
The vaccine is free and only available on the NHS, which never asks anyone for bank details like a card number or PIN.