In the last few months it appears that the North West of England has become a hub of nuisance calls after three raids undertaken on behalf of the Information Commissioners Office.

The ICO executed two search warrants this week, one in Gatley, Greater Manchester, on Wednesday and the other in Wilmslow, Cheshire, on Thursday.

Computers and phones were seized during the searches as the ICO continues to investigate nuisance calls prompted by the theft of people’s details from car repair centres throughout the UK. The items will now be subject to forensic examination and investigation.

Mike Shaw, ICO Criminal Investigations Group Manager, said:

“This illegal trade has multiple negative effects – both on the car repair businesses targeted for their customer data and the subsequent nuisance calls made to customers. These can be extremely unsettling and distressing. 

“Our searches this week are the latest step in us tracking down the unscrupulous individuals involved in this industry. These people won’t get away with it – any person or business involved in the theft and illegal trade of personal data may find themselves subject to ICO action.”

ICO investigators are looking at how the data was stolen, who stole it and which companies have subsequently made calls to the public encouraging them to make compensation claims about to accidents they may have been involved in.

The ongoing investigation, named Operation Pelham, started in May 2016 and has so far involved:

December 2016. A business and two homes in Macclesfield and Heald Green were searched by ICO officers. The business was linked to the making of telephone calls to numbers originating from some of the car repair centres. Computers, telephones and documents were among items seized from the residential properties.

April 2017. Homes in Macclesfield and Droylsden.

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