MONTREAL -- Montreal police say they have arrested two alleged fraudsters who were operating an automated call centre inside a downtown residential condo.

The pair, a man and woman both 24 years old, allegedly sent fraudulent text messages to thousands of people in order to obtain personal information. The technique is known as SMS phishing, or ‘smishing.’

Police seized 50 cell phones, 40 SIM cards, seven laptop computers and several routers. All of the seized material is currently undergoing a complete expertise, after which charges will be laid, police said in a news release Thursday.

The alleged fraudsters targeted customers of large companies by pretending to be them over text messages.

The suspects allegedly succeeded in obtaining numerous pieces of personal information from their victims and then used this information to commit fraudulent transactions totalling over $170,000.

The investigation is ongoing to determine the scope of the crime, police said.

Police are reminding people to be vigilant about fraud schemes and offered the following prevention tips:

  • Be vigilant when you do not recognize the phone number in a text message
  • Never click on a link received via text message before validating it with your contact
  • Do not call back a number that appears on a text message when you do not recognize the number
  • Do not respond to a text message asking for financial or personal information
  • Ignore any text message that says you have won a prize or contest
  • Ignore any text message that asks for a quick response
  • If you receive a text message from a company you do business with, contact their customer service department without responding to the text message

To report a phishing text, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (1-888-495-8501). In case of an emergency, call 911.