Monday 5 March 2012

Telephone Scam Message - Document 2

Extract from the Blog of the Chief Executive of the Wandsworth Council, London

"Good morning, this is Barkingside Police Station".

That's how the call to my mother began, yesterday morning at 9am. She is 86 in a few weeks time and lives alone in the house in Redbridge where I was born over 50 years ago. Inevitably, she has seen many changes in her road over that period but enjoys a strong sense of neighbourly community. Like many people of that age, she is infirm, finds walking a great challenge but is sharp in her mind and generous in outlook.

"Is that Mrs Martin?"


"I'm afraid I have some bad news for you. Your bank cards have been stolen and we believe they are being used fraudulently"

"That can't be right. I've got them right here, in my handbag".

"Well, they are definitely being used fraudulently. It's possible they have been cloned - that is, copied. We have been talking to Lloyds TSB and they need to speak with you right away. Is it all right if we transfer you to them?"

"Yes, go ahead".

The call is transferred to Lloyds TSB.

"Hello, Mrs Martin. I'm afraid we need to recall your cards straight away and issue you with new ones. If it's all right with you, we will despatch a courier to collect them. We take security very seriously, and need to issue you with a security number. Could you take this number down?"

My mother dutifully took a note of the security number.

"Now, it's important that you don't reveal your PIN numbers to strangers. You know that don't you?"


"Our Fraud Division need to verify the PIN numbers with you, and they will call you later this morning. You will know it's a genuine call because they will provide you with the security number we gave you, so you can be sure it's a genuine call. Is that all right? It's most important you don't tell anyone else about this because the fraud investigation is underway and security mustn't be breached".

I'm sure you can guess what followed. Indeed, the "Fraud Division" called and obtained the PIN number from my (by now, very confused) Mum. The "courier" arrived later to collect the cards. Only later did she start to worry that there was something not quite right about all this.

She was receiving calls from these conmen right through to 9 30pm yesterday evening - by now, they were purporting to express concern about her welfare and (I would guess) wondering if there was some more money they could extract from her. Having withdrawn the entire contents of her accounts (£4,000) during the course of the day.

The rest you can guess. The (genuine) Police were called. It's a scam, more elaborate than the Police had previously seen. Of course, elderly people living alone are always the victims. The Police identified 11 calls to my mother from the fraudsters during the course of yesterday. By the night's end, she was shocked, angry with herself for being taken in and bewildered by the sophistication of the sting.

My mother is relatively fortunate - she has many friends and family to help her through the experience. I hope she doesn't decide she can no longer live alone at home.

Why have I committed this to a blog? Because I am reminded how our Council policy of supporting elderly people to live at home is not just about home care, but is about community safety and how communities work.

Secondly, because our own Community Safety team in Wandsworth is now starting to run safety sessions for elderly people on the model of the Junior Citizen Safety and Lifeskills programmes that have been successfully run in Wandsworth for many years. My mother's experience tells me that such awareness raising sessions are incredibly important in today's society.

Thirdly, because I was struck how cleverly the fraudsters impersonated the language and approaches of legitimate security services. Most of what she described was a straightforward lift from standard security practice, lulling her into a false sense of the authority of her callers.

Finally, because I want you to know and pass it on.

Telephone Scam Message - Document 1

Card Fraud Telephone Scam

The UK Cards Association is advising customers to be aware of a new variation

on an old style scam that involves people being telephoned by fraudsters and

duped into handing over their debit or credit card, and revealing their PIN.

How does the scam happen?

A fraudster rings you, claiming to be from your bank, saying their systems have spotted a fraudulent payment on your card or that your card is due to expire and needs replacing. You may be asked to ring back using the phone number on the back of your card - which further convinces you the call is genuine. However, the criminal keeps the line open at their end so, when you make the call, you are unknowingly connected straight back to the fraudster. Then, by seeming to offer assistance, the fraudster tries to gain your trust. In most cases you are asked to ‘cancel’ your existing card or ‘activate’ or ‘authorise’ a replacement card by keying your PIN into your phone’s handset. The fraudster then poses as a bank representative to pick up your card from your home, sometimes giving you a replacement card, which is a fake. In some cases a genuine courier company is hired to pick up the card, which the victim has been asked to place into an envelope. Once they have your card and PIN the fraudster uses them to spend your money. A variation of the scam involves the fraudster ringing a prospective victim and claiming to be from the police – again with the aim of going to the victim’s home to collect the card and PIN.

What can I do to avoid this scam?

Remember this advice:

Your bank or the police will NEVER ring you and tell you that they are coming to your home to pick up your card, so never hand it over to anyone who comes to collect it. Your bank will NEVER ask you to authorise anything by entering your PIN into the telephone. NEVER share your PIN with anyone – the only times you should use your PIN is at a cash machine or when you use a shop’s chip and PIN machine.

What should I do if I think I may have been the victim of a fraud or scam?

If you think you have been the victim of a fraud or scam of this nature you should call your bank or card company immediately.

Telephone Scam Message

Information sent on behalf of Neighbourhood and Home Watch Network
Message sent on behalf of James Maddan, Chair of NHWN

We are all familiar with the wide variety of scams that have plagued our communities for the past few years.  Distraction burglary and other doorstep crime is pervasive and has a significant impact on the victims. The latest evidence from Operation Liberal is that the victim of doorstep crime is between two and a half and three times more likely to die or be admitted to residential nursing care than someone of a similar age who has not been a victim.

I have been made aware of a particularly nasty scam which is spreading from London and the Home Counties where it started and is now being reported across England and Wales. This is known as the 'Courier Scam' and we should be making our members and the wider community aware of it.

The essence of the scam is described in a blog (attached) posted by the Chief Executive of Wandsworth Council in London and is self-explanatory. The police and the banks have issued some basic guidance (attached).

Message sent by
Sam Cox (NHWN, Administrator, UK)

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