A senior PSNI officer has issued a warning after two reports of fraud involving two men from counties Antrim and Tyrone who lost a total of close to £40,000 in separate telephone scams.
Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “Unfortunately, we continue to see members of the public lose very significant amounts of money in online and telephone scams.
“In one of these cases, the victim from Belfast had received a voicemail on Wednesday, 30th January asking him to get in touch with the same internet provider he’s with. He called back the next day and was told there were issues with his broadband and he needed to download a program so the matter could be resolved.
“Unfortunately, the man downloaded the programme which gave the fraudster access to his computer.
“The man was also told he would be compensated for the problem and was asked to log onto his online banking, which he did. As the scammer had access to the man’s computer, he was then able to access his online banking and take £19,800.
“This has been an awful ordeal for this man who believed he was communicating with a legitimate representative from his internet provider, but who in turn was swindled out of thousands of pounds.
“In the second report, made to us on Monday, 4 February, the victim from the Omagh area had received a call from a person claiming to be from telecoms provider who told him he had issues with his internet and, to resolve the problem, he would have to install an app on his mobile device, which the man did. This enabled the scammer to take control of the man’s phone and gain access to his bank account; taking just over £19,700. While this may have sounded like a completely legitimate call, it illustrates how convincing scammers can be.
“I want to take this opportunity to appeal to members of the public to always err on the side of caution with any text, call, email or letter asking for payment or personal details in order to release money, refund fees, pay lottery wins or supply a holiday, giveaway or service. Tricksters know all the scams and will often communicate with victims in a convincing manner.
“Our advice is that 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 ever 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 if you’re 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.”
Note to editor: Attached is a photo is Chief Superintendent Simon Walls.