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Woman in her 70s swindled out of £45,000 in 'absolutely despicable' scam

People have been urged to talk to older members of their families about scams.

Image: Shutterstock/Mihai Simonia

POLICE IN NORTHERN Ireland are investigating a report of fraud where a woman aged in her 70s was swindled out of close to £45,000 (€50,000).

On Monday 7 January the woman, based in Craigavon in Co Armagh, tried to access her email account but kept getting a message telling her she was typing in the wrong password.

The next day the woman contacted her telecoms provider in a bid to resolve the issue and, after a short time, she could access her email.

Not long afterwards, however, the victim was phoned by a man claiming to represent the same telecoms and internet provider. He asked her to complete a number of things on the computer, claiming it was all part of checks he was conducting.

Among the instructions the fraudster gave the woman was to log on to her banking app. It appears software – TeamViewer – was subsequently installed giving the fraudster remote access to the victim’s computer, her bank account and the ability to transfer close to £45,000 from her account, the PSNI said in a statement.

“This is an absolutely despicable crime. The women has lost her hard-earned saving and this has left her extremely distressed,” Chief Superintendent Simon Wall said.

Police were informed of the incident last Friday.

Facebook scam 

On the same day, the PSNI received 11 other reports of fraud, including reports of people being targeted by scammers claiming to represent HM Revenue and Customs. While the majority of these people did not fall victim to scammers, one woman did.

She received a Facebook message telling her she had won a competition. She replied and was redirected to a website which advised she would have to transfer £2,000 before she could get her winnings. As a result of the communication, she unknowingly passed her personal details to the scammer and lost £2,000 (about €2,250), police said. 

“Sadly, this is just another example of how easy it is for scammers to fool people. This is why it is so important that people become scam-aware,” Wall said. 

Families also need to keep an eye on their loved ones, especially older members of their family. Have the conversation; sit down and talk about these types of scams and what they need to do to protect themselves online, on the phone and post.

Wall urged people 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”.

“Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer,” he added. 

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Órla Ryan

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