Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner.

Sick scammers use Highlands phone number in attempt to swindle £800 from 95-year-old woman

Stephen Duncan of Inverness College UHI offers his expertise on how to stay safe. Picture by Sandy McCook
Stephen Duncan of Inverness College UHI offers his expertise on how to stay safe. Picture by Sandy McCook

A north professor has issued a warning after a fraudsters used a Highlands telephone number to try and steal £800 from a 95-year-old.

Imposters posing as bank staff called from an Ardgay-registered number requesting the pensioner in Manchester part with the sum.

The scam was quickly thwarted by concerned neighbours, but the issue has been highlighted in a bid to prevent others from falling foul of similar schemes.

Cyber expert Stephen Duncan, of Inverness College UHI, has said the process of masking a number is simple to carry out.

He said: “It is generally called caller ID spoofing or malicious number spoofing and it is the process of changing a caller ID on a phone to display any other number than the actual number that is typically assigned to the handset or phone.

“The number could look like something that is on a bank statement or a debit card or from a bank or local number.

“Effectively, the caller ID on the handset is lying to you.

“It is a huge unresolved problem which has been increasing through the speed of emerging technologies.

“There is effectively no way for the person receiving the call to unmask the false number.”

He added: “The scripts that these guys will use will try and pressurise you to get the information they want. So trying to stop that is a good thing.

“Most of the time it’s random and most people are savvy enough to say this doesn’t sound right, but unfortunately some of the most vulnerable fall for it.

“Slow things down. Be very cautious so that you can investigate and don’t make rash decisions without thinking.”

Neighbour of the intended victim, Paul Marks-Jones, said: “The elderly are more trusting, particularly when somebody rings up claiming to be the bank because that may be how it happened in the past.

“When they are talking about large sums of money that may have been taken, it really does distress.

“We checked with her bank that no money had been taken.

“She was really upset, tearful and shaking. It is a large amount of money to a pensioner.

“It leaves you really angry to see people preying on the elderly and the vulnerable and trying to make it look like it’s a genuine claim.”

Police urge caution when dealing with scam callers

Police figures have revealed that since last August, 84 reports of safe account scams have been reported in the north-east – with more than £1million lost.

Detective Sergeant John Lumsden explained how the scams work and urged anybody receiving unsolicited calls to report these to police.

He said: “Typically, you’ll receive a call from someone pretending to be your bank or the police and they’ll say your account has been compromised and that you need to act fast to protect it. You’re encouraged to move your money into a ‘safe account’, but this is really the fraudster’s bank details.

“Sometimes the fraudster will advise you to hang up the phone and call the number on the back of their bank card to discuss the matter but stays on the line and pretends to be a bank employee, before instructing you to transfer money into a ‘safe account’.”

DS Lumsden advised that banks will never ask users to move money into another account and urged caution when security questions are asked.

He added: “If you believe you’ve been a victim of a safe account scam, please report it to the police on 101.

“We will deal with your case professionally and sensitively.”

Further advice is offered on the Police Scotland website.

Already a subscriber? Sign in