Police Scotland is urging the public to be vigilant following a spate of telephone scams in the North of Scotland.
A number of people have been targeted by fraudsters in recent weeks, including a family in Aberdeen who recently lost £20,000 to this type of scam. In the majority of cases the criminals phone individuals claiming to be a representative from their bank and advise them that their bank account has been compromised.
The victim is then encouraged to transfer their money - often their life savings - into a 'safe account' provided by the fraudster. These fraudsters have the technology that allows the calling number being displayed to relate to the bank the victim has accounts with. This is called ‘spoofing’ and when checked against the telephone number on the rear of the victims card it appears that the numbers are the same. This gives further credibility to the fraudster's story.
This type of fraud is commonly known as 'vishing' and while incidents are most commonly known to occur on the phone, this advice also applies to Internet security, mobile phones and various apps that ask for an individual's details, including email and banking.
Officers are urging people to be aware of calls and contact of this nature, and in particular to ensure their elderly or vulnerable family, friends and neighbours are also aware of this type of scam and to be on their guard.
Detective Inspector Iain McPhail, from Police Scotland's Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit, said: "These are ruthless crimes which can have extremely sad outcomes for the people targeted. We want to make sure that the people in our communities are kept safe and informed and I would urge you to take note of our advice on how to reduce the chances of becoming a victim.
"Please always be on your guard if you are contacted on the telephone by anyone claiming to be from your bank, or indeed any other company such as an electricity supplier, and especially if the call involves transferring money, providing or confirming your bank details. If there is the slightest doubt, attend your bank in person and do not provide your details over the telephone or the computer.
"I would always encourage you to contact your bank to verify the call, and it is also really important to do so on a different phone line as scammers can leave the phone line open and reconnect as soon as you dial a new number, continuing the scam. If this isn't possible, leave at least an hour between receiving the suspect call and making a new call. I would urge you to look up your bank's telephone number and become familiar with it, and do not use any number the caller provides.
"Another current scam involves individuals being encouraged to contact Internet security companies via 'pop-up' windows on their computers. It has also been seen that some telephone numbers for internet security companies found in online searches are actually those of scammers. In both cases, customers are induced into providing their financial details and charged for services they never receive.
"If you are worried about fraud or scam callers please contact Police on 101 or through other available e mail addresses on the Police Scotland website. Please do not be frightened or embarrassed to let us know if you think you have been a victim of this type of crime."