The bank phone fraud scheme that has been making its way through the U.S. and UK has shown up in Scotland, to the tune of £2.5 million in losses.
The national police force in Scotland says that a wave of phone scams hit the Highlands region of the country in the last two weeks, targeting businesses. The scheme is a simple one that has proven to be highly effective in many countries. Scammers call business owners, or sometimes consumers, and pass themselves off as representatives of the target’s bank. The calls typically use spoofed numbers to seem more legitimate and the fraudsters tell the victims that there is a problem with their bank accounts and that they need to transfer funds to a safe account for the time being while the issue is resolved.
The new account is controlled by the fraudsters and after the transfers are complete, the victims find it very difficult to get their money back.
“These fraudsters are very convincing and have managed to obtain a significant amount of money from local businesses. We have launched a thorough investigation into these incidents and are working with the companies’ relevant banks. Some of the money that companies have lost has been recovered and work is ongoing to try and recover as much money as possible,” Detective Inspector Iain McPhail from the Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit of Police Scotland said in a statement.
“These incidents are devastating for the people that fall victim to the scams. We are urging the public to be on their guard against unsolicited calls and be suspicious if someone reporting to be from your bank requests any of your bank or personal details as they should already have them.”
This specific phone fraud scheme has been making the rounds for a couple of years and fraudsters have seen quite a bit of success with it. Last summer, police in the U.K. arrested seven people in connection with a similar scam that had taken more than £1.3 million from victims over the course of a few years. One of the key components of the scheme is the caller ID spoofing, and for victims who think they may be receiving a scam call, the best defense is to hang up and use a different phone to call a known number for their bank and check.