Two men in the UK have been arrested for creating an illegal telephone mast, which was used to send thousands of smishing text messages to the public.

UK police
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As part of the investigation into the use of a “text message blaster," police said that they uncovered a scam which involved sending thousands of smishing messages. It's alleged that the men sent messages posing as banks and other official organizations to members of the public.

Smishing is a phishing cybersecurity attack carried out over mobile text messaging. It's also known as SMS phishing.

City of London Police said that the illegitimate telephone mast was used as an “SMS blaster” to send messages that bypass systems put in place by mobile phone networks’ to block suspicious text messages.

In a statement, police said they arrested a man on May 9 in Manchester, before making another arrest on May 23 in London.

Huayong Xu, 32, of Alton Road, Croydon was charged on May 23 "with possession of articles for use in fraud" and was remanded in custody.

He will appear at Inner London Crown Court later this month. The other man has been released on bail, but has not yet been named.

The investigation was carried out by officers from the Dedicated Card and Payment Crime Unit (DCPCU), the UK's mobile network operators, Ofcom, and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC).

“The criminals committing these types of crimes are only getting smarter, working in more complex ways to trick unknowing members of the public and steal whatever they can get their hands on," said temporary Detective Chief Inspector David Vint, head of the DCPCU. "It is vital we work with partners to help prevent the public from falling victim to fraud.

“Remember, a bank or another official authority will not ask you to share personal information over text or phone. If you think you have received a fraudulent text message, report it by forwarding it to 7726.”