The Police Service of Northern Ireland is urging people to be vigilant after a fraud in which thousands of pounds was stolen by scammers impersonating police officers.
Yesterday, 21 November, a man in the North West received calls throughout the day from men claiming to represent the ‘National Crime Agency’ and police here, and in England. The man was told his National Insurance number had been compromised and his bank accounts had been frozen. The man was told to buy gift vouchers and share the codes for those vouchers by text message. The criminals, posing as police officers then contacted the male again said police would arrange to meet with him to follow up. No meeting took place with the people who called him and the man was swindled out of close to £2,000.
Police enquiries are ongoing, and anyone who believes they have been targeted in this way recently, but have not reported it, to do so now to police, to their bank and to Action Fraud.
Chair of the ScamwiseNI Partnership, Chief Superintendent Gerard Pollock warns police will never contact anyone in this way and, if they do they can be certain it's a scam and the person they are talking to is a criminal.
“Sadly, this isn't the first time we've seen this type of fraud, and we can't stress enough just how important it is for people to spot the signs criminals use to try and steal your money," says Chief Superintendent Pollock. "They have one aim, and that's to con people out of their money and they will never give up on trying. The impact of this type of crime can be devastating, leaving a real sense of fear and causing serious distress for people, not to mention the financial loss.
"Police officers will never ask you to buy gift vouchers or send details to them by text message or WhatsApp or indeed, ever contact you in this way. We will never contact you and ask you to withdraw or transfer money for any reason. If you receive a call like this out of the blue, it's a scam and you should end the call immediately.
"We know fraudsters can sound as if they're real, and use all kind of scenarios to make those they target believe they are genuine. That’ why being aware of this type of crime is crucial. It's also important if you have older relatives, to have a conversation about this type of crime and reassure them help is available.
“If you have been targeted in this way, or know of someone who has received such a call, we want to hear from you. It's never too late to report this type of incident to police, to your bank or building society or Action Fraud."
A spokesperson for The National Crime Agency said: “The National Crime Agency will not send unsolicited correspondence requesting money or bank details. If you have doubts about the authenticity of a message received from the NCA, please contact 0370 496 7622.”
If you have received a call of this kind, or if you're concerned by the intent of unsolicited calls, emails or letters then please report it to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040, or call police on the non-emergency number 101.
For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni