The warning comes after numerous reports were received in recent days from victims right across the country.
The scams involve a text or WhatsApp from a person claiming to be a family member, and have the common aim of encouraging the recipient to transfer money.
Chair of the ScamwiseNI Partnership, Superintendent Gerard Pollock said: “We received 11 reports yesterday alone (13 October) from individuals in Counties Down, Armagh, Tyrone, Antrim and Derry/Londonderry.
“In each case, a person purporting to be a family member, often a daughter or son, asks for money. Typically, the ‘child’ is short of money or late paying bills, and makes an ask for the recipient to transfer money into an account. This is backed by a story that he or she has recently changed their phone or phone number.
“It’s a despicable act, which takes advantage of a person’s willingness to help out loved ones who are perhaps away from home.
“In some of these cases the victim has been prudent enough to check with the relative and therefore realise it’s a scam before departing with any money. Sadly, however, this isn’t always the case.
“Fraudsters will use any means possible to trick people. While scams may come in all shapes and sizes, they have one thing in common – scammers rely upon the good faith and vulnerability of those they target. Hard-earned savings can easily be gone in a flash and, with it, one’s confidence.
“Please don’t get caught out. If you get a message of this nature, please take time to make contact, by a reliable means, with your loved one. So don’t enter into a dialogue using the same text or WhatsApp trail.”
For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni. If you have any concerns about 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. You can also call police on the non-emergency number 101.
If you receive a suspicious message, whether by email, website or text message you can take the following actions:
- Email – if you feel unsure about an email you have received, you can forward it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Services at email@example.com
- Website – If you have come across a website which you think is fake, you can report it here: Report a suspicious website - NCSC.GOV.UK
- Text message – Report suspicious text messages for free to 7726. Your provider can investigate the text and take action if found to be fraudulent.