Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Pensioners among victims of ‘BT’ scammers

Police have issued a warning to the public after it emerged that victims of two recent telephone scams have lost more than £20,000 between them.

On Thursday 18th January an elderly couple in Co. Down were contacted by a man claiming to work for British Telecom, informing them of a fault on their line.  The fraudster instructed the unsuspecting pensioners to log on to their computer to test various applications, before talking them through a process, which allowed him remote access to it.  It was then the scammer was able to gain access to the couple’s online banking account from which £10,000 was withdrawn.

In a second similar incident, also in Co. Down, a man purporting to work for BT contacted a woman advising her that she was due a refund of a sum of money and requested her banking details to process the refund.  Unwittingly, the lady relayed her bank details, after which she discovered more than £10,000 was missing from her account.

In light of these incidents, police are warning the public to be on the alert.  Detective Sergeant Melanie McGrory said they are prime examples of how easily scammers can steal large sums of money from unsuspecting victims.

“Always be wary of any individual that cold calls you and be especially suspicious of anyone who asks for money, banking or credit card information or who asks to gain access remotely to your computer,” she advised.  “It is highly unusual for any legitimate company or organisation to demand money over the phone or ask to gain access to your computer.  If you are at all suspicious about a call that you receive, hang up and phone the organisation that the person is purporting to represent to check their authenticity.”

Any recipient of this type of call, or who is concerned by unsolicited calls, emails or letters should report it to Action Fraud, by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101, Det Sgt McGrory added.

Responding to the incidents, a spokesperson for BT offered this advice: “If you have a concern about the validity of calls of this nature, members of the public should contact 0800 321999 to validate the identity of the caller.  We also suggest that any consumers who are concerned about receiving suspicious calls should seek advice at the following BT web page , which provides further information to help you keep your valuable information safe and stop fraudsters getting access to it.

“Additionally, consumers may find the following sources of advice helpful from the PSNI and Action Fraud to try and stop these scams from taking place.”