Telephone scams – be aware…

17 June, 2014

Within the space of one week, two of our clients were conned using the same basic technique. As a result we want to share this information as widely as possible to avoid you or your relatives being defrauded in the same way.

 

In both cases, the fraudsters made use of the fact that if you call someone on their landline and stay on the line when the target victim hangs up, if the target victim then dials someone else they will still get the fraudster and not the person they dialled.

 

The bank scam

 

In the first case, our client Mr J was approached by someone claiming to be from his bank, saying that his online bank account was being targeted by hackers. They asked him to call their fraud department to discuss the matter further. Mr J put his phone down, found the relevant number from the bank’s website which he then called using the same landline. When he did so, he was reconnected to the fraudster who, having not disconnected their end from the original call, was still on the phone. The fraudster then persuaded Mr J to transfer funds from his existing account to three new accounts. Mr J complied thinking that he was talking with his bank. When he went to his branch to check the position, Mr J found that he had in fact transferred his money to someone else’s account. He has been advised by Russell Simpson, a Partner in our specialist dispute resolution team, taking into account several special features of this particular case which are confidential. However, at the present time there is no guarantee that he will get his money back as he carried out the transactions personally.

 

The police scam

 

In the second case, Miss S was contacted by someone claiming to be from a police station to let her know that she had been targeted by criminals who were apparently in custody at the station. They advised her to contact her bank to check the position about her credit cards. When Miss S dialled her bank she was unknowingly reconnected with the fraudster. She was told that the bank would send someone round to collect her credit cards and any valuables which needed protecting. These included a valuable painting and jewellery. Shortly after the items had been collected Miss S realised that this did not seem quite right and contacted the police. As a result the police were able to issue a national alert and contacted Interpol about the stolen painting, providing a better chance of recovery.

 

Be aware

 

In summary, be very wary about calls suggesting that you are the victim of fraud and encouraging you to immediately call someone about this. If possible, make any such calls on a mobile phone or a different landline. According to the Metropolitan Police “Neither your bank nor the police would ever ring you and state that they are coming to your home to pick up your card, so never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it. If you think that you have been the victim of a fraud or scam of this nature report the crime to your local police”.