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PSNI issues warning after over €20k stolen from elderly through phone scams

A number of elderly people were contacted by a scammer pretending to work for British Telecom (BT).

Image: Brian A Jackson via Shutterstock

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland have issued a warning to the public after £20,000 (€22,670) was stolen from elderly people in two separate phone scams.

PSNI in Newry, Co Down were contacted by an elderly couple who received a telephone call from a man on Thursday who claimed to work for British Telecom (BT), informing them of a fault on their line.

The couple reported that the man asked them to log onto their computer to test various online applications and talked them through a process to allow him remote access to their computer.

The man then gained access to their computer and withdrew £10,000 (€11,330) from their online banking account.

In the second incident, a woman in Co Down was contacted by a man purporting to be from BT, who claimed that he needed her banking details in order to refund her a sum of money.

After her details were relayed to the man, a sum in excess of £10,000 was taken.

“These examples show us how easily scammers can extract large sums of money from unsuspecting members of the public. It is therefore of extreme importance that we all take time to consider who it is we are speaking to when we receive an unsolicited call and not to place our trust in a complete stranger,” Detective Sergeant Melanie McGrory said.

McGrory warned that people should always be wary of any individual that cold calls you, and to be “especially suspicious” of anyone who asks for money, banking or credit card information or who asks to gain access remotely to your computer.

It’s highly unusual for any legitimate company or organisation to demand money over the phone or ask to gain access to someone’s computer, she noted.

“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,” McGrory said.

“Ideally make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line,” she said.

Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person.

People who have received a call of this kind or are concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or lettered are being asked to report it to Action Fraud via its website or by phoning 0300 123 2040.

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