Suffolk woman scammed out of £200,000 by fraudsters pretending to be from bank

The victim is from Southwold. Picture: MIKE PAGE

The victim is from Southwold. Picture: MIKE PAGE - Credit: Archant

Scammers pretending to be from a bank’s fraud department investigating rogue employees have stolen £200,000 from a Suffolk woman.

The telephone scam, which urges victims to transfer money from their accounts, has prompted warnings from police while council bosses warned of its “devastating” impact.

The latest victim, a woman in her 60s from Southwold, had the six-figure sum taken from savings.

Suffolk police said the scam saw criminals contacting victims, pretending to be from their bank’s fraud department warning that their accounts are being targeted by “rogue employees”.

They claim the employees are being investigated but tell the victims they must transfer their savings out of their account into an apparent “safe account”.

The fraudsters also pressurise the victims by saying there is limited time and tell them to keep the transfers secret. The victim is asked to make instant transfers online or at their local branch. During the phone call the victim is told what they should and should not say to others.

Dc Joanne Smith from Safeguarding and Investigations said: “The fraudulent caller will sound very convincing, and claims to know the banks procedures and even information about the victims account to gain their trust.

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“The fraudulent caller may also build the trust over a couple of days before asking to make the transfers as well as providing genuine telephone numbers and passwords that will correspond to the legitimate bank / building society.

“Some fraudsters have the ability to mask their telephone number so what appears on the caller display conveys the impression it is a genuine phone number.”

Matthew Hicks, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for environment, public protection and broadband said: “This is a staggering amount of money for anyone to lose to a scammer. Scams such as this, can have a devastating financial and emotional impact which can affect a person’s physical and mental health.

“We work with all law enforcement agencies to raise awareness of such scams and last month, Suffolk Trading Standards launched a new initiative called Friends Against Scams. This is a National Trading Standards initiative, which aims to protect and prevent people from becoming victims of scams by empowering communities to ‘Take a Stand Against Scams.’

“The campaign encourages individuals and communities to inspire action, help us change the perceptions of why people fall victim to scams and make scams a local, regional and national topic.

“The aim is to have 1500 Friends by the end of 2018 and we are calling on individuals and businesses to make the pledge.”

Suffolk police have issued the following advice:

•Your bank or the police will never ask you to withdraw money or purchase items

•Your bank or the police will never ask for your PIN, bank card or bank account details over the phone – never give these details out

•If the victim has any concerns about what the caller is asking then they should end the call and report to their branch and or fraud department.

•Never download any software suggested by caller.

•Do not rush into complying to the scammers demands / requests. If you receive such a call leave the landline for at least five minutes to make an outside call.

•Fraudsters will keep the line open and have been known to play ring tones, hold music and a recorded message down the phone so the victim believes they are making a call to a legitimate number.

•Use a friend or neighbour’s telephone instead.

•Friends, family, carers and neighbours are asked to spread the word to ensure everyone is aware of this scam and what they should do

Further advice can be found from:

Suffolk police’s websiteAction Fraud’s websitePeople can also report fraud to Action Fraud via its online reporting tool or by calling 0300 1232040.

People can also sign up to the Trading Standards weekly email alert on rogues and scams targeting Suffolk.

Visit Friend Against Scams to become a Friend.

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