Covid scammer jailed after posing as NHS vaccine service

Teige Gallagher is believed to have sent thousands of people ‘phishing’ texts (Picture: BBC; CPS)

A scammer who sent fake NHS texts to people waiting for their vaccine offer so he could steal their personal details has been jailed for more than four years.

Teige Gallagher, 21, from north London, sent fraudulent messages claiming to be from a wide range of organisations including banks and mobile phone providers.

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.

(Picture: BBC) A COVID-19 fraudster has been jailed today (19 May 2021) for using fake digital messages to trick people into providing bank details to receive a vaccine. Teige Gallagher, 21, was sentenced at the Old Bailey to four years and three months' imprisonment. Gallagher had been sending out bulk text messages to members of the public claiming to be from various commercial organisations such as banks and from the NHS. The victims were asked for personal financial information, including questions relating to their bank accounts and bank cards. In the case of the NHS, Gallagher set up web pages based on the GOV.UK website, which claimed it needed this information to verify who victims were and their entitlement to receive the vaccine. The police found iPhones at Gallagher?s home containing messages purporting to be from the NHS, various banks, and Netflix. On one of the phones more than 2,000 telephone numbers were found, believed to be a list of victims who were sent scam SMS messages. Gallagher used specialist tools to be able to send out bulk SMS text messages to a list of mobile phone numbers which came from a data breach. He would then tailor a fake SMS message from an organisation relevant to the victim. Within the fake message there would be a link to a fraudulent website and once taken in by the scam the intent was to ?socially manipulate? the victim to disclose personal details. In this way he intended to obtain the victims? full names, credit and debit card numbers, bank account numbers and passwords.

Fraud police caught Gallagher with the help of a mobile phone provider (Picture: BBC)

‘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.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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