Just like my last post, this one is all about scams – they seem to be the big thing at the moment.
On returning from work following the Easter break I’ve found emails concerning several scams in my inbox, some of which are quite disturbing. The first concerns an elderly lady who nearly fell victim to a telephone scam. The fraudster rang claiming to be from her bank, stating that someone had tried to withdraw money from her account and that they needed various amounts of cash out of her account to entrap the people responsible. She was told her to go to the bank and withdraw a sum of money, in a mixture of £50, £20, £10 and £5 notes. She was told she must not tell anyone or she would be arrested! The poor lady was so confused that she actually went to her bank not realising that banks are closed on Good Friday. When the lady told her son, he took the next phone call (the scammer continually phoned her all afternoon to check if she had withdrawn the money), telling the caller that he had contacted the police who were calling round to the house to take further details, having advised that this was a scam. This lady was extremely upset and frightened that someone would call at her house, though is now being reassured by the police and of course her family. If the banks had been open there is a good chance that staff would have alerted the police to such an unusual withdrawal anyway, as with Trading Standards Officers we’ve done a lot of training with the banks.
The next attempted fraud I was informed of is equally disturbing. A local resident received the following text message: “Hi its Emma. Don’t panic but im at the hospital. I had a fall and broke my leg in 2 places. Can you text me when you get this message? Need a favour x.” Now, this lady has a daughter called Emma who lives away from home so immediately flew into a panic and so called the number, which she didn’t recognise but assumed was her daughter’s work phone. There was no reply but shortly afterwards she received the following text, “Signal bad..Can you do me a favour? Can you get me a phone voucher til tomorrow? The text conversation continued until the lady asked for hospital details – the response was ‘the general’ and I was asked to get a £20 t-mobile voucher and text them the voucher number. By this time the lady’s husband had made contact with their daughter to find that she was not in hospital and this was probably a cruel scam. The phone number from which the texts were sent, 07968942499, has been identified on various websites as being used by fraudsters, though by now I would expect they’ve ditched it and are using another number. If you get such a text please ignore it, though if you’re able reporting it to Action Fraud would be useful.
The third and final scam sent to me over Easter involved the old phishing email. Recipient has received an email stating that his Virgin Media account billing details are incomplete and that he is about to be disconnected. A link is included to update his billing details and avoid disconnection. The link does, of course, take you to the fraudsters’ website, cunningly made to look just like Virgin Media’s using logos, etc. taken from the genuine site. They will then have your bank details and will be able to empty it at their leisure. Once again, if you receive such an email, from any of the banks, utilities, etc., just ignore it. If you’re in any doubt always check the web address at the top of your browser, and as a further precaution do an internet search; it’s highly likely that someone will already have had the same email and will have written about it online!