Mobile phone contract fraud 

June 26, 2021

Our Fraud and Security teams are always tracking different types of fraud. This scam involving mobile phone Pay Monthly contracts has been on the increase recently. We’ll describe what it’s about and what to look out for.

What happens

The fraudster will cold call people, claiming to be from a mobile phone seller. And they’ll offer an unbeatable deal on a popular phone. If the customer agrees, they’ll think they’ve placed an order with the seller and possibly even made an upfront payment. In reality, the scammer has placed an order with a genuine mobile phone provider, like Three, using the customer’s details.

Instead of ordering the correct phone, they’ll take out a contract for a different phone. The customer will receive texts and emails confirming that the order’s been placed and that the phone is on its way.

When the delivery arrives, it’s not the phone the customer ordered. The fraudster will phone to apologise. They’ll try to resolve the situation by asking the customer to return the phone to an address they provide. All the while, claiming that the correct phone will be sent out. They’ll also promise the customer that the postage will be credited back on their first bill.

However, the return address is a fake address, and the new phone never arrives. When the customer then tries to get in touch with the scam seller, they can’t get through. And when they call the real mobile phone provider, they’ll have no record of the new phone. They’ll only have the original order that the fraudster made. This is when the customer realises it has been a scam.

Warning signs

  • The quality of the call may be poor.
  • If you make an upfront payment, it may show on your bank statement as an online payment and not a telephone purchase. The company name may be different.
  • It’s unlikely that a genuine company would contact a customer to let them know that they received the wrong phone.
  • No company would ask you to send the phone back at your own expense. If it’s a legitimate error, a prepaid return envelope would be sent and it would never be a residential address.

What should you do if you think you’ve been a victim of mobile phone contract fraud?

  • Contact your network provider on the official number showing on their website. They should cancel the fake contract through the money back policy on the return of the phone. They can also add your details to the CIFAS Fraud Prevention national database. This would keep you safe from any further fraud attempts.
  • Let your bank know about the transaction and cancel your card as the fraudster will have these details.
  • Report the crime to Action Fraud at

Check out our Safety portal to learn more about how to keep yourself safe from fraud.