On Thursday, June 17th, a man, 19, was arrested on suspicion of fraud and money laundering following a warrant we executed at an address on Muncaster Road, Preston after we received some information linked to a mobile phone contract fraud. The man remains in custody at this time.

Even though we haven’t had any cases in Lancashire, we wanted to remind you how this kind of scam works and how to avoid becoming a victim, as there have been various reports around the country. Please share this information with people you know.

What is this scam?

Basically, consumers are being cold called by individuals impersonating employees of legitimate mobile network operators and suppliers.

Victims are offered early handset upgrades, or new contracts, at significant discounts. Once customers have been convinced that the deals are genuine and agree to proceed, suspects then ask for their online mobile account credentials, including log-ins, address and bank account details.

Suspects then place orders with genuine companies on behalf of victims, however select a different handset to that requested and have it shipped to the customer’s address.

Upon receipt, suspects assure victims that this has been an error and instruct them to ‘return’ the handset to a different address not affiliated to the mobile company. These addresses are usually residential.

Upon intercepting the ‘returned’ handsets, the suspects cease contact and victims find themselves stuck with no phone and liable for the entirety of a new contract taken out in their name.

How can you avoid becoming a victim?

If you’re unsure that the person calling you about a mobile phone or contract upgrade is an official representative of the company they claim to be from, hang up and do not reveal any personal information.

Only contact your mobile network provider on a number you know to be correct. For example, 191 for Vodafone customers, 150 for EE customers, 333 for Three customers, 202 for O2 customers, 4455 for Tesco Mobile, 789 for Virgin Mobile and 150 for Sky Mobile.

If you receive a device that you did not order or expect, contact the genuine sender immediately. The details for this will be within the parcel.

NEVER post a device directly to a given address. All genuine mobile network operators would send out a jiffy bag for you to return without you incurring additional cost.

We would like to thank our colleagues at the City of London Police and Royal Mail who assisted us in our arrest operation yesterday.

T/DI Mark Riley of Lancashire Police said: “Criminals involved in fraud have no place to hide in Lancashire and we will proactively target offenders who are suspected. We will work with partners to ensure that people do not fall victims to these scams."

Should you be concerned about a particular incident similar to the above, we would urge you to contact Action Fraud.

Message Sent By Lancashire Constabulary Police Headquarters

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