Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Scam of the Week (Telephone)

This came up at our January coffee morning, via Terry, but I could not find any reference to it on the internet. I concluded that because it is very, very clever (I couldn’t see any holes in it to suggest it might be a false alarm) that it was being kept quiet so as not to spread the practice to other criminals. So, wrongly, I did not publish it. It has been happening in Woodford and could be coming your way. Criminals pay little heed to geographic boundaries. Please use your contacts and networks to spread the word to any vulnerable and elderly people you know. If you have a notice board there is a poster at the bottom of this post.

You get a call saying there has been irregular activity on your account and would you please call the number on the back of your card. You replace the handset and they keep the line open and play a recording of dial tone down the line so you think you are making a new call, which you are not. They hear you dialling (number tones) and stop the dial tone recording and when you have finished dialling they play a recording of ring tone down the line for a couple of rings and then stop that and someone else (different voice) “answers” the call. You think you are through to your bank/credit card company and….. what do they do? They ask you to confirm your details.
1. Banks/Credit Card companies do not make calls like this
2. If there was irregular activity they would stop the card – period
3. Banks will never EVER ask you for your PIN number
4. They will not ask you to return your card

Here’s the Police version.
Dear all,
A particular type of fraud targeting elderly people is on the increase across London. Our aim is to raise awareness and provide some key crime prevention messages to the elderly and their circle of support - friends, family, neighbours etc.
By raising awareness we will decrease the likelihood of people falling victim. The average age of the victim is 70 years old. The average loss is £4,000.
The Method
1) The method varies but essentially involves a victim being telephoned (cold -called) by a suspect who alleges to be someone of authority (eg, from the police, bank, Serious Fraud Office). The suspect tells the victim there is a problem with their bank account (like it has been compromised) and that their bank card must be collected.
2) If the victim is unconvinced that the call is genuine they are instructed to hang up and call a genuine number – such as 999 or the telephone number on the rear of their bank card. However, the suspect keeps the telephone line open and so the call goes straight back to the fraudster who then deals with any subsequent call, convincing the victim of their authenticity.
3) The victim is then content to reveal their bank details, namely the PIN.
4) An often unwitting courier or taxi driver is sent to collect the victim's card. The card is delivered to a second suspect, who then passes it on to the fraudster. The fraudster then empties the bank account.
Key Messages
Primary: (To potential victims, family, friends) Never give anyone your PIN or bank card – the police and banks will never ask for them.
Secondary/supporting message(s): (To cabbies/couriers) Beware of collecting and delivering packages from elderly people as you may be assisting in a criminal offence.
Reporting offences: If you have been a victim call the police on 101 or in an emergency by dialling 999. (Generally victims are elderly/vulnerable and therefore it is NOT appropriate to report this matter to Action Fraud).
A courier fraud awareness day is being held on Wednesday 20th March.
If you are part of a neighbourhood watch group please consider meeting on 20th March (or any time that week) in order to focus on this issue and give out the above messages.
The Metropolitan Police has produced a crime prevention poster (below) which is currently being distributed throughout London.

click on image to enlarge


  1. It might be worth repeating the warning about a telephone call that tells you you have a virus on your computer and offers to direct you to a website that will remove it. I know you covered this one.

    The call I've had a number of times recently is one offering to get me money owed on my private pension. Oh year? I put the phone down straight away.

    1. I now subscribe to TPS (telephone prefeerence service) so no longer receive even the genuine calls about PPI, my entitlement to personal injury compensation, and the like.

      Before I did so my usual ploy was to press button 3 (the one they ask you to press to speak to an adviser) and then place the handset at the side of the telephone. After a while they get tired of waiting to speak to you and they terminate the call.

      Where somebody actually speaks to you then tell them to wait just a minute whilst you fetch your papers and put the handset at the side of the telephone. Do nothing more - they too get tired of waiting to speak to you.

  2. Morris is answering a query. Despite TPS (and I do check I am still on the list, regularly), I still get phone calls offering compensations for accidents or PPI.
    Next time, I will press 3 and discuss the problems of the world with them! I was worried pressing 3 could mean that the call would then be charged to your phone bill.
    All the same, it's very annoying to have to answer an unsolicited phone call.

  3. When I get a call, say about accident compensation, I pretend that I don't understand and say to them that I am sorry that they have had an accident and ask them how they are and also ask them if they have tried to contact one of those no win no fee claim lines.

    I then ask them for their name and address so that I can send them a get well card.

    About this time they put the phone down.

    1. Brilliant! Much more friendly than telling them to go forth and multiply......

  4. Or another way is just to say to them, there is someone
    at the front door, hold the line please, then just leave them on the end of the line, they simply go away after about a minute, but during that minute, that is one or two less phone calls they make to annoy someone else, if your really clever, you can play music to them as well

  5. Taking up Dopef's point, make a copy of this and play it to them ...

    1. "This came up at our January coffee morning, via Terry, but I could not find any reference to it on the internet ..."

      Neither could I, despite an intensive search, including trawls of various group websites ...

      It was only when I mentioned it to my wife recently that she said "Oh, that was weeks ago - they did a big item about it on 'You and Yours' on Radio 4" ...

      Then I remembered where I got it from ...!