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Police warn of online fraudsters operating in the north

By David G Scott

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POLICE in Caithness are urging residents and businesses to be on their guard following recently reported phone frauds.

Three incidents have been reported within 24 hours where people have been contacted by someone claiming to be from their bank stating that their accounts have been compromised.

The person is then asked to transfer money to a "safe account" at another bank – which in reality belongs to the fraudsters.

Enquiries into these incidents are ongoing.

Scammers have been targeting people in the local area.
Scammers have been targeting people in the local area.

In addition, preventions and interventions officers led by Sergeant Simon Hay will be working with local businesses and community groups to raise awareness of scams and how to protect yourself against them.

Sergeant Hay said: "It is a well-known tactic for scammers to alarm the account holder into believing their money is at risk and trick them into transferring their money to them.

"The effect can be devastating for the businesses and individuals who fall victim to these scams and I would urge everyone to be on guard at all times against this type of activity.

"The criminals who use tactics like this go to great lengths to appear legitimate, including making it appear that they are calling from the genuine number which is printed on your bank card,

"It is important to remember a genuine caller from your bank would never ask you to transfer money during an unsolicited call.

"Always be suspicious if someone claiming to be from your bank requests your bank or personal details – they should already have them, and they wouldn't ask for them over the phone.

"A genuine caller will understand if you are sceptical and will not pressure you into taking immediate action.

"It is best to politely end the call and call back on a number you have sourced yourself, ideally using a different phone. Alternatively seek advice from your local bank if that is an option."

Key advice includes:

• The fraudsters often use spoof numbers, making the call appear as though it is coming from a genuine bank number. It is for this reason police advise that if you call your bank back, you should use a different phone to the one the initial call was received on.

• Always double-check numbers you're given to call back on or call through an independently checked number, such as the main customer care number for the organisation, and ask to be put through

• If you are concerned, consider visiting your local branch instead of speaking to someone over the phone

• Never give out a banking password or PIN over the phone

• If you have concerns or suspicions report them to police as soon as possible on 101.

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