A Highland student was conned out of a substantial amount of cash in the latest scam to hit the region.
The local man was cheated by a conman who posed as a reputable property landlord.
The scammer also used the student’s mobile number to find out personal information from his Facebook account.
David MacKenzie, Highland Council’s Trading Standards manager, said: “We received an enquiry from a Highland student who had placed a ‘flat wanted’ advert in an online classified ads website.
“The advert had only his mobile number, with no name or other identification details.
“He received a call from a man who seemed really plausible and who name checked people and places the student knew. After allegedly ‘carrying out checks’, the caller got back in touch and offered a room in a flat in return for a holding deposit”.
The student was keen to secure the flat and sent the deposit by bank transfer. Unfortunately there was no flat, it was a total scam.”
He continued: “There was little we could do to help this consumer as a bank transfer is a bit like handing over cash and there is little chance of recovering the money. Plus the crime here is fraud rather than a Trading Standards matter so we passed the information to the police.”
Mr MacKenzie added: “There are two key settings on Facebook dealing with your mobile phone number – who can see your mobile number and who can look you up by your mobile.
“It seems most people understand the first setting, but we suspect many people don’t realise the potential implications of anyone being able to find your identity from just your mobile number.”