Belfast Telegraph

PSNI warning after 24 attempted scams reported in two days

By Adrian Rutherford

A senior PSNI officer has urged people to be alert after a spate of fraud incidents in the last two days.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said that police had received 24 complaints since Tuesday from people in counties Armagh, Down and Antrim about attempted scams.

Some said they received phone calls and automated voicemail messages from people claiming to represent HMRC threatening them with arrest if they don't pay taxes they owe.

Others said they received emails and calls demanding they pay a sum of money using Bitcoin - a form of electronic cash - or else they would post videos online of them watching footage of a sexual nature.

None of the people targeted were scammed out of any money, police said.

Chief Supt Walls explained: "In one instance reported, the fraudsters asked the victim to buy iTunes gift card voucher codes because they can be easily redeemed and easily sold on. The scammers don't need the physical card to redeem the value and instead get victims to read out the serial code on the back of their card over the phone. Thankfully, in this case the scam was spotted and no money was lost.

"In another instance, a man received a call from someone claiming to represent BT, who said their internet had been hacked and requested access to their account. Luckily, access wasn't given.

"We are reassured that people are able to spot these scams, and people are picking up the phone to report them to us.

"However, we 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."

Chief Supt Walls urged people to always be wary of any individual who cold calls. He added: "Don't allow any cold caller remote access to your computer.

"Be especially suspicious of anyone who asks for personal details, money, banking or credit card information via the telephone.

"Once a scammer is in a victim's computer and personal details are given by the victim, their online bank accounts can be accessed and significant amounts of money lost, money they may well never get back."

He said if people are suspicious about a call, they should hang up and phone the organisation the person is purporting to represent.

Belfast Telegraph

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