Good morning everyone,
I’d like to make the main focus of this message to be on frauds and scams and how to avoid becoming victim. In the following paragraphs I’d like to illustrate a few of these which have been doing the rounds in this area and what to look out for.
Safe Account scam
This scam relates to the victim receiving a call from ‘their bank’ advising that there has either been some suspicious activity on their account or a criminal has recently tried to use their bank card to make a large purchase at a local supermarket or DIY store. The advice is then given to get in touch with the bank’s security department to move all funds to a safe account until the matter can be investigated and new accounts set up. The victim is usually advised to do this immediately by phoning the Security Department as soon as they come the phone from the current call. Victims who do this, usually in a bit of a panic, then speak to someone in the ‘Security Department’ who notes the existing bank account details and assures the victim that everything will be taken care of.
Behind the scenes, what has really happened is that the original caller has not hung up when the victim has, but instead has handed the phone, with the line still open, to a crony. The crony has pretended to be from the Security Department and noted the victim’s bank account details. The first caller has then gone on-line and used these bank account details to transfer as much as possible from the victim’s accounts to their own account. Often the money is unrecoverable.
The crux of this scam is inducing panic in the victim; this is intentional to stop the victim from acting rationally. If you receive a call like this, stop for a minute and think things through. Perhaps speak to someone for a second opinion. Banks never call people on this premise. If you can, use another phone and call the bank to report the scam, then call the Police. If you must use the same phone, wait at least half an hour, listen for the dial tone and report the scam to the bank.
These are scams where the victims receive letters in the post, often from abroad, advising that the recipient has won a large sum of money or are due a large inheritance. The only fly in the ointment is that there are pesky transfer fees, legal fees, admin fees to be paid and then the principal can be paid out. The purpose of this scam is to hook the recipient, who pays the fees in the belief that their ship has come in. Unfortunately the process hits one unforeseen snag after another, each requiring a payment from the victim to surmount it. This scam can result in victims paying out many thousands of pounds over substantial periods, with no hope of receiving money, as it does not and never has existed.
With these scams, the truth of the matter is that the fraudster is appealing to the victim’s greed or desperation (perhaps due to financial straits) and that good times are just around the corner. Unfortunately, they’re not. This scam involves many, smaller payments, unlike the one above which aims for one big, immediate result. Again, stop for a moment and think “Who do I know in that country?”, “How did they get my details?” or “Did I enter that competition?” – if you cannot answer these questions or the answers are in the negative, then it’s probably a scam (sorry!) and it’s best to throw the letter in the bin. Don’t reply to it as this will often result in further attempts to cheat you out of your cash. If may also make you the focus of other fraudsters who see you as an easy target.
This scam or a variant involves the victim receiving a call from someone advising that their computer or router is running slow but that the caller can remedy this if the victim will allow them access to the computer to help. There may be some window dressing about transferring test payments between accounts to verify that everything is in order or once access is granted that the caller will install a programme to remedy the slow computer. Some callers claim to represent prominent IT companies.
In truth, these callers are criminals who represent only themselves. The advice here is straightforward – DO NOT GIVE THEM ACCESS! If you do, they may be able to steal your online bank details, photos, passwords and personal information. If have computer problems then the safe way to handle things if for you to contact a computer technician from a reliable source such as the Yellow Pages or your own Internet Service Provider (ISP). You wouldn’t let a stranger knock at your front door then come wandering round your home at will…would you??! The principle is the same with this scam. Please also make sure that your anti-virus and malware programmes are to date and your firewall is switched on, to keep intruders out.
As always, if you’d like more information on these or other subjects on how to keep yourself, your home and your property safe, please give us a call on the Police Scotland non-emergency number of 101 and ask for Crime Reduction.
Bob McKinney, CRO,
Crime Reduction Unit,
North East Division,
Nigg Police Office
230 Abbotswell Crescent, Nigg,