BELFAST, Northern Ireland - Police in Northern Ireland are being ovcerwhelmed with reports of scamming, prompting them to issue an alert to people to beware of fraudsters.
In one case of fraud in the Craigavon area a woman in her seventies was swindled out of close to £45,000.
"Around 4:20pm on Friday, 11th January we received a report the woman had tried to access her mail earlier in the week, on Monday 7th January, but kept getting a message telling her she was typing in the wrong password," Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said Thursday.
"On Tuesday, 8th January the victim contacted their telecoms provider in a bid to resolve the issue and, after a short time, she could access her email. Not long afterwards, however, the victim was phoned by a man claiming to represent the same telecoms and internet provider. He asked her to complete a number of things on the computer, claiming it was all part of checks he was conducting."
"Among the instructions the fraudster gave the woman was to log on to her banking app. It appears software - TeamViewer - was subsequently installed giving the fraudster remote access to the victim's computer, her bank account and the ability to transfer close to £45,000 from her account," Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said.
"This is an absolutely despicable crime. The women has lost her hard earned saving and this has left her extremely distressed."
"Unfortunately, it's not the only report of fraud we had last week."
"On Friday, 11th January we received a further eleven reports of fraud, including reports of people being targeted by scammers claiming to represent HMRC. While the majority of people did not fall victim to scammers, there was one person who did."
"A second woman was contacted on social media, via Facebook. She replied to a message which she believed was genuine and was from someone she knew informing her she'd won a competition. Replying, she was re-directed to a site which advised she would have to transfer £2,000 before she could get her winnings. As a result of the communication, she unknowingly passed her personal details to the scammer and lost £2,000."
"Sadly, this is just another example of how easy it is for scammers to fool people. This is why it is so important that people become scam aware. Families also need to keep an eye on their loved ones, especially older members of their family. Have the conversation; sit down and talk about these types of scams and what they need to do to protect themselves online, on the phone and post," said the chief superintendent.
"While it's reassuring some people are able to spot these scams, and they are picking up the phone to report them to us, other people are being still being caught out. I would continue to urge 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."
"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."
"Telecoms providers will never call to tell you they have found a problem with your computer; they will never ask for payment details over email or live chat; and they will never call out of the blue and ask for remote access to your computer or other devices."
"Internet/Broadband providers will never call to tell you your router or IP address has been compromised or that your broadband has been hacked. They will also never call to threaten to disconnect your service if you don't make a payment immediately."
"If you have received any calls asking for any of these details or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101," said Chief Superintendent Walls
"Further advice and information can also be obtained by visiting NI Direct or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page
"Remember if you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam."