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Police urge public to be vigilant after more than £70,000 lost to scams

The Police Service of Northern Ireland is asking members of the public to be wary following the reports of two scams in recent weeks in Counties Antrim and Armagh.

A County Antrim man, aged in his fifties, has been a victim of fraud totalling some £60,000.  The telephone scam, which took place on Wednesday 23rd October, involved a number of calls to the victim’s landline and the combined, unscrupulous efforts of three males.

The first call was from a man claiming to be from a telecommunications company. The fraudster informed the man that his internet line had been hacked and that he would need to download software to his PC and await a call with instructions from a cybercrime investigator.

The man did as requested and, shortly afterwards, received the call from the supposed ‘cybercrime investigator’.  He, the second conman, stated that there had been fraudulent activity within the man’s bank and that his funds were insecure. A third collaborator, posing as the head of the bank, then convinced the victim to set up a new bank account, to which £60,000 was subsequently transferred.

Chief Supt Simon Walls
Chief Supt Simon Walls

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “This was a carefully calculated and despicable act, which involved the collaboration of several individuals. To many, £60,000 is a lifetime of savings. This is a huge financial blow, as well as a loss of one’s trust and confidence.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t stop there. We’ve recently been informed of an incident that took place earlier this month, on Friday 4th October, and this time in County Armagh.

“The County Armagh man received an email, supposedly from his accountant, requesting him to transfer an amount of £12,782 to a specified account number, belonging to HMRC. The email contained specific details, which led the victim to believe it was authentic.  He subsequently made the requested transfer before finding out, from his real accountant, that the email was in fact fraudulent.”

Chief Superintendent Walls continued: “Scams come in all shapes and sizes, from mandate fraud to the plain and simple telephone scams.  All have one thing in common. Those responsible are ruthless and will go to any length to trick victims out of their hard–earned money.  They have no regard whatsoever for the impact of their actions, which can be devastating.

“Our message is simple – never disclose your personal or banking details to anyone over the phone or online, no matter how convincing they may seem, and never allow an unauthorised person to have access to such details via your computer.

“If you have any concerns about 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.  You can also call police on the non–emergency number 101.”

For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page.

The four main Churches and the Irish Council of Churches are supporting Scamwise NI through the Church Leaders Group.  A range of resources to help parishes across the island to prevent scams is available at www.ireland.anglican.org/scamwiseni

The Church Leaders Group comprises the Church of Ireland and Roman Catholic Primates of All Ireland, the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, the President of the Methodist Church in Ireland, and the President of the Irish Council of Churches.

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