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dont be caught out

Be careful, scammers are still targeting Irish home phone users

Two mammies of staffers have been targeted in the last two weeks alone. Have you received one of these calls?

PEOPLE ACROSS THE country are still being targeted by a scam operating out of India in which hackers pretend to be technical support and convince their victims to allow them remote access to their computer.

The hackers ask them to input their bank details and a sum of money is taken from their accounts. The scam has been in operation for at least two years and a spokesperson for the Data Protection Commissioner’s office said they are still receiving queries about it this year.

Two years ago, the commissioner’s office did investigate the scam because people were reporting that the calls were coming from Irish landline numbers. However they discovered it was actually operating from India.

“They were masking it with lines and as soon as we shut down one line they opened another,” she said. Because it’s being run from outside of the commissioner’s jurisdiction, she said there is little the office can do but warn people about it.

So, how exactly does this scam work?

Yesterday, this author had firsthand experience with it. I received a frantic phonecall from my mother who said a man called the family home, saying something about information being compromised. Like a lot of Irish parents, she’s not very computer literate and had no idea what he was talking about but was really worried by it.

“I asked him if it was some kind of warning and he said it was,” she told me. She gave me his name – Daniel Jones – and an Irish landline number and I called him back, just in case it was actually legitimate and she hadn’t understood.

The man who answered pretended he was technical support for a computer company and when I asked to be transferred to the person my mother spoke to, he put me on hold and then came back on the line pretending to be this ‘Daniel Jones’.

A very brief conversation ensued, in which he stressed how urgent it was that I immediately leave work, go to the house and follow his instructions on the laptop if I didn’t want all passwords and personal information to be vulnerable. I politely told him I wouldn’t be doing that and we said our goodbyes.

Calls to the computer and phone companies confirmed all was well with the laptop and nobody’s information was at risk. But about an hour later, poor Mam got another call from a different guy – a ‘Royal Barker’ this time – with the same phone number. He was very pushy over the phone and, again, warned her that personal information would be compromised if she didn’t do as he said straight away.

After talking about it in the office, it turned out that the mammy of another staffer had also been targetted in the last two weeks by the same scam and she was tricked into giving remote access to the hackers. Luckily, she managed to contact her bank before any money was taken from her account as she had given her details.


Phone operator Eircom said it has still been receiving reports about the scam and would encourage customers to report them to their local garda station or contact Eircom directly.

A spokesperson said the scam “seems to ebb  and flow”.

We do notice spikes in calls at certain times. In February they seemed to be quite prolific and it seems to be back on the radar again now. It seems like when awareness is high they take the foot off the pedal.

According to the Data Protection Commissioner’s office, this scam isn’t going anywhere and while reports of it have reduced since it first started, that may be because more people are aware of it and just tell the fraudsters where to get off.

Their advice is not to engage with them at all, and definitely don’t tell them any personal or bank details over the phone.

Have you ever received one of these calls? Tell us about your experience in the comments below…

Read: Here are the warning signs that will tell you an email is a phishing scam>

Read: Don’t be tempted by app offering to change your Facebook’s colour – it’s a scam>

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