Ed6juneSome months ago the elderly father of a good friend of mine was the victim of a scam that robbed him of several thousand euro. One morning his phone rang and a 'nice lady' introduced herself as an official from his bank. The call appeared on his mobile to originate from the same number that the bank had used in the past to communicate with him, so all appeared above board. What the poor man didn't know was that sophisticated computer software exists that can generate false caller ID numbers to make it appear that the calls originate from any number the scammers wish.

The 'nice lady' from the bank went on to explain how they had noticed suspicious activity on his account and how they were concerned that scammers had compromised the security of his funds. He was advised that in order to 'protect his funds' the bank were advising that he transfer the money into a 'secure' temporary account beyond the reach of the scammers. So convincing was the scam that the unfortunate man gave details of his account, complete with online password and PIN number without hesitation. The money was indeed transferred but not to any 'secure account' as the 'nice lady' had suggested, but to an account in Eastern Europe, from here it was quickly transferred several times to a series of Asian banks, making it nearly impossible to trace. The bank have disclaimed responsibility to reimburse the money as he freely gave the information to a third party.

It's a sad reality that scammers like this exist in huge numbers around the world; these are people whose sole objective is to rob others of hard earned savings. These people are without scruples or conscience and regard anybody they can fool as fair game. There are places around the globe where large call centres exist with dozens of scammers working around the clock looking for their next unsuspecting target.

The recent attack on the computers of the HSE and the Department of Health is another example of the sinister handiwork of the scammers. In these attacks they invade the computer systems of their targets with rogue software that cripples the network until a ransom is paid over for a 'key' to undo the damage. It's an example of a very modern crime perpetrated by people thousands of miles away who have turned technology to their own despicable purposes. The fact that the health service is crippled by their actions doesn't bother them in any way, their sole interest is the money they can extort.

So beware of unsolicited phone calls from financial institutions, even if they seem to originate from trusted phone numbers. Never give out information of any kind of your banking details no matter how convincing the caller sounds. If you have the slightest suspicion hang up and visit your bank branch without delay. Other scams involve calls informing you of being the lucky winner of a cruise for two, and all you have to do is give your credit card details to pay a small admin fee in order to receive the tickets. Never give out such details over the phone. The world is awash with gangsters out to make easy money at the expense of others, BEWARE! If something seems too good to be true it usually is!

Philip Curran
St. Mary's Lucan

June 5, 2021 - 10:31am
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