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A mysterious type of mobile phone fraud

I can’t be sure if this story of a stolen identity will bring any one any benefit especially as it’s not over yet, but I’ll recount it anyway for my own cathartic purposes, and perhaps someone reading will be able to help me as I still don’t understand the scam.

A week ago on Friday (28th July 2013) I arrived home to find a card from ParcelForce through the front door. Slightly surprising as I was not expecting a parcel, and my daughters, who sometimes use me as a poste restante, were all away. The addressee also seemed a bit odd – probably not my initial though somewhat scrawled so hard to tell. By default the parcel would be redelivered on Monday when I would be away, so I used the internet option to ask for re-delivery on Wednesday.

This mystery parcel has now caught my attention so after getting home on Tuesday I was expecting another ParcelForce card for the failed default re-delivery on Monday. I checked the internet option again which recorded the parcel as having been delivered – not to me, of course, but to someone called A Venchensu – see the image from the electronic device. I rang ParcelForce to point out that the parcel had been badly delivered and Solly agreed to begin an investigation.

The next development was on Wednesday when a letter was delivered from T-Mobile addressed to my wife. I am the executor of her estate and authorised to deal with her affairs since probate was granted more than a year ago, so I opened the letter. Apparently she had taken out a mobile phone contract for £31 per month.

Obviously this is distressing from a personal point of view, plus there is the fear that somehow this may  be a scam which is financially damaging to me.

My guess is that the ParcelForce delivery would have been the new phone.

I took myself off to the T-Mobile shop (now EE) in Crouch End. The gentleman in there simply dialled through to a customer service centre and gave me the phone. While I was hanging on for an operator he called up the new account on his computer screen. It’s not my account so he can’t give me any details, but a few things do emerge from the various conversations taking place - that a similar problem had been reported the previous day, that the account specified for payment of the bill was with the Halifax and that the fraudsters know my wife’s date of birth.

The customer service operator listened to my story and assured me that he would cancel the account and that he would block the phone allocated to the account from making outgoing calls immediately. He also promised to block the phone from all networks altogether on receipt of proof that my story was true.

So, I have now sent off a copy of the necessary certificate to T-Mobile, and a print out of the proof of delivery (to someone else) of the phone.

I reported the fraud to the  Metropolitan Police, who gave me a reference number and put me on to actionfraud.

I reported it to actionfraud (a specialist branch of the police force) who gave me a reference number and put me on to CIFAS.

I looked at the CIFAS website, but found it difficult to follow. I rang CIFAS to tell them to warn their members that someone had stolen Pam’s identity and to watch out if they tried it again, but no operator was available.

I’ve asked for an Experian £2 credit check report to discover if any one has applied for credit using Pam’s name.

 

In some ways I hope I never hear of this again – if T-Mobile have truly cancelled the account, and accept that I do not have the phone then there should be no come back on me. But, some mysteries remain:

Where did the fraudsters get the identity information?

What did they hope to gain from the scam?

Is something else about to happen in respect of the scam? – perhaps it’s not over yet.

Will this now happen again?

What can I do to prevent further occurrences?

 

I suspect that a great deal of identity information is readily available – at the registrar’s office for example. I have no idea what the fraudsters hope to gain – they might have the (now useless) phone but that’s just a coincidence, as I happened to be out (was the driver in on it?), otherwise it would have been delivered to me. I will never pay the T-Mobile bill, and anyway the fraudsters would not have benefited  - maybe there is another stage yet to come. I guess I’ll be extra vigilant for a while, but his could easily happen again.

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Tags: fraud, identity, mobile, phone, scam

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Comment by Charlie Sharp on August 6, 2013 at 18:50

How upsetting for you, having to go through all this. 

At a guess the fraudsters would wish to get a phone, which could then be used to call an overseas premium rate number run by fellow fraudsters, and leave a huge phone bill that would be unrecoverable. 

I was subject to an identity theft in June. I won't go in to details, but the parallel involves (or perhaps involves, as I should I say at this stage) the interception of items in delivery, similar to yourself. That is one general concern that I have. I fear that casualisation of the delivery workforce is potentially opening up security issues.

In our case, once the initial interception had taken place, there was an attempt to change the address for the account holder. This seemed to be allow for the delivery of items purchased online. Might be something to watch out for.

Perhaps understandably, we have never heard to conclusion of the investigation, even though it emerged there was quite an identifiable trail from the fraudster. This does leave one hanging on, wondering whether it is all over.. 

I do hope the Met get back to you to put your mind at rest.

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