Police are urging the public to be vigilant after a number of reports of fraud across Northern Ireland where victims have been scammed out of a total of approximately £77,000.
Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “In all of the cases reported to us, victims told us they had received calls from people claiming to represent internet providers or a computer company.
“In one case, in the Belfast area, a victim was scammed out of £25,000. The victim had been experiencing problems with his internet connection and received a deposit purportedly from his internet provider. He was told by the scammer they needed to recover the money deposited as too much had been transferred. The victim tried to do this, without success, and he was subsequently requested to log into his account. Following this, the victim discovered a total of £25,000 was missing from his account. He was also advised no initial deposit was ever made to his account.
“This is quite a common scam where the scammer will ‘mistakenly’ claim they’ve transferred a large amount of money into the victim’s account. They ask for the over payment to be refunded, which is what happened in this case. The victim logged into his account, which gave the scammer remote access to their computer.
“In each of the other cases reported to us, the victims reported having received calls from internet providers about their accounts. In total, amounts of between £3,000 and £23,000 were reported as being taken from their accounts.
“Our advice is always be wary of any individual who cold calls you. Don’t allow any cold caller remote access to your computer. Be especially suspicious of anyone who asks for personal details, money, banking or credit card information via the telephone. Once a scammer is in a victim’s computer and personal details are given by the victim, their online bank accounts can be accessed and significant amounts of money lost; money they may well never get back.
“The scammers may also advise their intended victim they’re due a financial refund and ask for details of their bank account in relation to this, which they will then target.
“If you are at all suspicious about a call you receive, hang up and phone the organisation the person is purporting to represent to check their authenticity. Ideally, make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line. Never be pressured into a transaction over the phone.
“Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer.
“If you have received a call of this kind or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.
“Further advice and information can also be obtained by visiting www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni
“And remember if you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.”