His ‘phishing’ scam used links directing potential victims to imitation websites designed to trick them into entering their account details and personal information that could later be used to commit fraud.
The texts claiming to be from the NHS told recipients the details were needed to determine whether they qualified for the Covid jab.
After seizing Gallagher’s devices, detectives discovered thousands of phone numbers and other personal details belonging to members of the public.
He was able to send out the texts for a period of at least five months between October and March.
A specialist fraud unit identified Gallagher as the sender with the help of intelligence work by a mobile phone provider.
Detective Chief Inspector Gary Robinson, head of the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU) said: ‘Gallagher wrongfully thought he could get away with impersonating organisations and sending out scam text messages, including ones related to the Covid-19 vaccine to commit fraud.
‘The DCPCU will continue to crack down on those seeking to exploit this pandemic to defraud the public, through close collaboration with the CPS, mobile phone companies and the banking industry.
‘Criminals are experts at impersonating trusted organisations like the NHS, banks or the government and will try to play on people’s concerns about their finances at this difficult time.
Police urged the public to watch out for criminals exploiting the vaccine rollout through texts, emails and cold calls.
The vaccine is free of charge and only available on the NHS, which will never ask anyone for banking details such as their card number or PIN.