Police are urging the public to be vigilant after four victims across Northern Ireland have lost £40,000 after being targeted by scammers in the past week.
Four incidents in the last week have seen fraudsters pretending to be from legitimate organisations take victims' money in phone scams, a fraudulent email and an advertisement.
A woman in the Magherafelt area had £20,000 taken on Monday after she received a call from someone claiming to be from her telecoms provider.
They asked the victim to switch on her computer and the scammers were able to remotely access it. They told her they were going to install software to remove viruses from her machine.
She was told she was also being given a reward for being a long term customer and followed instructions to log into her internet banking.
The victim’s computer screen went blank for approximately one to two minutes and, when it came back, it appeared that £15,000 had been lodged instead of £150.
She was then convinced to return the money which she was told was sent in error. She transferred £20,000 over four payments to a bank account controlled by the scammer.
The victim was put under pressure to send the money and was told by the scammers to contact her bank using her mobile to authorise the payments. The scammer remained on the landline throughout the incident which lasted over two hours on the phone.
On the same day a business in Lisburn was also targeted by online scammers who removed £12,500 from the company account via a fraudulent email. Police say they believe the money was transferred to an account in England and are working with Lancashire Police as part of their investigation.
On Saturday 18 May, a man from Dungannon had £6,2000 removed from his account after being targeted in a fraudulent call after he had made a legitimate call for online support.
The most recent incident was on Tuesday when a man from Larne contacted police to tell them he had lost £2,700 after responding to an advertisement offering investment opportunities.
Unfortunately over the course of the last week over £40,000 has been fraudulently taken from four people across Northern Ireland. This has been an awful ordeal for each of them who believed they were communicating with legitimate representatives from organisations, but who in turn had taken money from each of them.
Ch Sup Simon Walls commented: “Fraudsters will go to any length to scam people out of money and you might think it might never happen to you, but it can. Each scam differs in design, but the ultimate aim remains the same – to steal your money.
“Guarding your personal and banking details is essential. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person or allow anyone access to them via your computer.
“Financial institutions, utility companies, law enforcement, HMRC, internet and telecoms providers will never ask you to transfer money because your account is compromised or call out of the blue and ask for remote access to your computer or to download software.”