Uncovering an SMS Blaster: Groundbreaking UK Investigation

By Jacob Howell, Director of Corporate Strategy at LATRO

Operation Overview and Device Functionality

In a groundbreaking operation, UK law enforcement has made significant headway in the fight against smishing scams. Two individuals have been arrested in connection with the use of a “text message blaster,” device employed to send thousands of fraudulent messages impersonating banks and other official organizations. A link to the press release can be found here: Press Release.

SMS Blaster Scheme

This device, acting as a fake base station, was used as an “SMS blaster” to distribute messages that bypass the protective measures mobile phone networks have put in place to block suspicious texts—both SMS firewalls and SMS content filters. This operation, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, represents a significant step in combating this newly emerging form of cybercrime.

The first arrest occurred on May 9th in Manchester, followed by a second arrest on May 23rd in London. Huayong Xu, 32, of Alton Road, Croydon, was charged on May 23rd with possession of articles for use in fraud and was subsequently remanded in custody. Xu is scheduled to appear at Inner London Crown Court on June 26th. The other individual involved has been released on bail.

The Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), in collaboration with mobile network operators, Ofcom, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), spearheaded the investigation. Temporary Detective Chief Inspector David Vint, head of the DCPCU, emphasized the importance of partnership in preventing the public from falling victim to fraud. DCI Vint warned that criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, employing complex methods to deceive and steal from unsuspecting victims.

DCI Vint also provided crucial advice to the public, reminding them that banks and other official authorities will never request personal information via text or phone. He urged anyone who suspects they have received a fraudulent text message to report it by forwarding it to 7726 (SPAM).

Ways, you can protect yourself from potential phishing text messages:

  • Most phone providers are part of a scheme that allows customers to report suspicious text messages for free by forwarding it to 7726. If you forward a text to 7726, your provider can investigate the origin of the text and arrange to block or ban the sender, if it’s found to be malicious.
  • If you’ve lost money or provided financial information as a result of a phishing scam, notify your bank immediately and report it to law enforcement.

This case highlights the evolving nature of cybercrime and the necessity for constant vigilance. As criminals adapt their tactics, it is imperative that individuals remain cautious and informed about the potential risks associated with digital communication. The success of this operation serves as a reminder of the effectiveness of collaborative efforts in safeguarding the public against such threats.

LATRO’s Solution to SMS Blasters

LATRO’s has developed a solution that helps mobile network operators and law enforcement detect and locate SMS Blasters. LATRO’s Bypass Shield solution analyzes the signaling messages of networks where SMS Blaster devices may be in operation. Using expert technology, we can detect where these rogue devices are located so that mobile network operators, law enforcement, and regulators can act quickly to find and stop them – preventing significant messaging revenue loss and stopping security risks to subscribers.

Download the FREE SMS Blaster Brochure to discover more.

Don’t Let Fraud Eat Away at Your Profits. Contact LATRO Today!

🔗 LATRO is committed to helping MNOs combat SMS Blaster fraud and protect their bottom line. If you would like to learn more about how we make invisible SMS Blaster attacks visible and how to bust the operators of such equipment, please contact us today or send email to info@latro.com if you would like to find out if SMS Blasters are operating within your network and their impact to your business.