People in Angus are being urged to be alert to a phone scam in which fradusters are tricking locals out of hundreds of pounds.
Angus Council is asking people to be vigilant to the scam, in which people are conned into thinking they are making a call to their bank when in fact they are remain on the line to the criminals.
An older Angus resident has already been conned out of £100 and only the swift action of a social worker prevented the loss of a more significant amount.
The con appears to be targeted at older vulnerable residents. In this case, Mary was called at home by a man, Jake, who said he was from her bank.
He told her a large amount had been withdrawn from her account and the bank was concerned about the account’s security.
Jake asked Mary to hang up and call him back immediately on the helpline number of the back of her bank card, so she could verify he was from the bank. The call connected to Jake and Mary was satisfied she was through to her own bank. She gave him the account and card details he asked for.
The fraudster was had manipulated Mary into giving him the bank details he needed to help himself to her money.
The scam works because Jake did not hang up from his original call. Mary thought she had called another number but in fact Jake was still on the line.
Commenting on the recent scam Mark Hodgkinson, Angus Council’s adult protection officer said: “We have had two reports of this scam in Angus. One resident lost around £100 but we know from cases in other areas that much bigger amounts have been stolen.
“The message to everyone is to be very vigilant to anyone contacting them out of the blue and claiming they are from a bank.
“Be very cautious about sharing bank details with anyone over the phone unless you are absolutely certain the caller is who they say they are.”
Angus Council was the first authority in Scotland to adopt a formal policy on financial harm. Introduced in June last year the policy sets out how the council, in partnership with other agencies such as the post office, police, voluntary sector and local businesses, is targeting scammers and protecting residents.
Mark said it was important that people reported scams: “People can be reluctant to report these kinds of scams as they feel a little foolish about being conned but I urge everyone to report a scam or a suspected scam to the police or the trading standards service. Any of us can be taken in by a determined fraudster - all it takes is a moment’s lack of concentration or distraction.”
Fraudster’s activities are not confined to phone scams. It has been estimated that £6.2 million is conned out of Angus residents by mail scams alone each year.
Mark urged relatives of particularly vulnerable residents to be extra vigilant, saying: “We know that scammers target more vulnerable people. Relatives should contact the council if they have any concerns.
“We have a legal duty to make inquiries into more vulnerable people who might be at risk of harm but we can only act in cases we know about.
“There are a number of ways in which we may be able to help. For example particularly vulnerable adults suffering from nuisance phone calls can be equipped with call blocking equipment; some devices can block nearly all scam or nuisance phone calls.”
Angus’ pioneering trial of call blocking technology to protect those being targeted by financial fraudsters and cold-callers has received national recognition.
If you know about someone who is at risk or who may have been a scam victim contact Police Scotland on 101 or Angus Council’s trading standards team on 01241 435600.
For information about financial harm and financial scams call 08452 777 778 and follow the Scam Free Angus team on twitter @scamfreeangus for up to date scam alerts.