Northern Ireland town hit by bank scams

 May 13th 2014

Up to 30 people in a town in Northern Ireland have lost tens of thousands of pounds in "serious and sophisticated" banking fraud in the past two months.

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Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detectives, investigating, report that a gang has used telephone and computer scams to divert money from bank accounts of people in the market town of Limavady, County Londonderry. In many cases, hoax callers claim they are from banks or other financial institutions. One man is thought to have lost life savings of up to £60,000.

The PSNI's Sergeant Ian Hunt told the BBC: "People have lost everything they ever had. This is very worrying for the town. There are cases around the province but Limavady is a particular concern at the moment. We are not sure why Limavady is a key target. Maybe it's because we have lost a few banks recently and jobs. The themes of the approaches vary, but they are generally aimed at getting people to disclose personal financial details such as PIN codes."

According to the PSNI, fraudsters posing as bank employees are phoning victims to say that a problem has been identified in thier bank account, and instructing them to tell the individual to transfer money from a genuine account into another, in reality controlled by the fraudster. The unsuspecting victim may do so straight away, or the fraudster may advise the victim to find the bank's number and call it to ensure that it isn't a scam. What happens then is that after the call has ended, the fraudster actually keeps the telephone line open so that when the victim makes the call, they are in fact revealing all their confidential banking details to the fraudster. This is an example of 'social engineering'.

Sergeant Hunt advised: "What we are saying is, if you get a call or email, do not give out financial details or agree to any transaction, and do not respond to email addresses or phone numbers provided by the caller. You can always check the legitimacy of any approach by contacting the named bank on a number you know to be genuine. It has been known for fraudsters to keep the telephone line open after their conversation, so that when you make a call, you are talking to them again. Avoid this by first of all making a call to a family member or friend so that you can be sure the line is clear."

Danske Bank has sent letters and emails to their customers, warning them about the scams.



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