Beating the scammers by becoming online savvy
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A man in his 90s from the Chippenham area was scammed by a bogus police officer who convinced him to withdraw £2,000 from his bank account and hand it to a fraudster courier who came to his home address.
This story is not uncommon. Fraud represents a third of all crime reported in the UK, and as we read every day in the news criminals are continuing to find new and innovative ways to extort money from people - whether that is in person or online.
Technology has never been better, and fraudsters have never been smarter, so as part of our summer Click or Call campaign, we are highlighting cybercrime and fraud.
Unfortunately, we deal with cases of cybercrime and fraud daily as criminals target our weaknesses in technology, take advantage of our vulnerabilities and of people’s good will.
In July this year, a 24-year-old student from Swindon was given a three year community order after being found guilty of money laundering. He was given £250 to pass his bank details on to a gang who were running a sophisticated phone scam. This information was then used to set up nine new bank accounts in his name which received money from an unsuspecting victim in his 70s.
The victim was called by a member of the gang who were pretending to be his bank, Nationwide. The phone number of his bank appeared on his caller display and it followed some previous dealings with the bank, so he thought it was genuine. The scammers told him their system was under attack from hackers and he needed to move his money into secure accounts. .
The victim was persuaded to make the transfers - a total of £21,500 to 18 different accounts.
Earlier this year, we received several reports from across the county from people concerned after receiving phone calls from men posing as police officers and requesting bank details.
The ‘officers’ said that they had arrested a man and needed assistance with a fraud investigation.
They then asked questions about bank details and in some circumstances asked people to withdraw sums of money.
Police officers and banks will never cold call residents in this way and ask for card or bank details.
There are some simple steps you can take to help protect yourself from these types of crime:
- Your bank or the police will never ring and ask you to verify your PIN, withdraw cash or purchase high-value goods. They’ll also never come to your home to collect your card, cash or purchased items. If you get a call like this, end the call.
- If you get a call from your bank or the police, make sure you know who the person is before handing over any personal details. You can do this by calling your bank (the number on the back of your card) or the police (101) on a different phone line.
- If you receive a call and are asked to call back or are encouraged to call the police or your bank try and use a different line. To get a different line, use a phone owned by a family member, friend or neighbour. This is because scammers can keep phone lines open after pretending to hang up. So, while you think you’re making a new phone call, the line is still open to the scammer, who pretends to be someone from your bank or the police.
- Depending on your bank, the security questions they ask may be different, but they’ll never ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into your phone.
- Never send money abroad to a person you've never met or to anyone you don’t actually know and trust.
- Likewise, never agree to keep an online relationship a secret. This is a ploy to get you not to tell your family and friends, who’ll see the scam for exactly what it is.
Alongside fraud, cybercrime is also a common method used to scam people out of money.
They target victims using phishing emails in hope that you will open an attachment or click on a link to compromise your electronic device and gain access to your personal information, passwords and account details.
Obvious signs of phishing include:
- Misspelling and bad grammar within the email
- Addressing you as “customer” or by your email address, rather than using your name, and links that lead you to sign into personal accounts.
Always double check the email address that has sent the email, there could be a slight change to make it look like a supplier you regularly deal with or it could be spoofed, and the real email address is hidden.
Please talk to your elderly relatives or neighbours so they continue to be aware and take some time to stop and think and talk to someone they trust before transferring any money or sharing bank details.
If you think you have fallen victim of fraud, please call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Alternatively, please report online using the form on our website www.wiltshire.police.uk or call us on 101.