Internet browsing scam alert issued for NI

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The public are asked to remain vigilant of scammers - after a surge in HMRC scams reported recently to the PSNI.

Chief Superintendent Simon Walls said: “Recently, the most commonly reported scams to police have been HMRC scams, what we refer to as a computer services scam and a scam where members of the public are threatened with having their internet browsing being made public.

“Each scam differs in design but the ultimate aim remains the same – to steal your money."

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He added that HMRC scams "involve people being contacted by phone and either being informed that they owe taxes and if not paid they could face arrest, or being contacted and told they are due a tax rebate".

"HMRC will never contact members of the public by telephone for either of these reasons so if you receive a call of this nature hang up."

He added: "The Computer Services Scam involves the scammer, purporting to be from your telephone/broadband or computer provider, telephoning members of the public, claiming that there are problems with their broadband/phone line or computer and that the customer needs to permit remote access to their computer for it to be fixed.

“Never allow any cold caller remote access to your computer, no matter how genuine or convincing they sound.

“Once a scammer is in your computer and personal details are given, online bank accounts can be accessed and significant amounts of money lost. In the past few days we have seen considerable financial losses with this type of scam."

Chief Supt Wells said the internet browsing scam "has been reported in growing numbers and involves emails being received which include passwords and the names of the recipients to make it appear that the person sending the email has detailed information on the recipient".

"The scammer will claim that they have had access to the persons online activity and webcams for some time and that they have proof of the person having visited pornography websites. They will then demand money or they will share this information with friends and family members.

"In reality, the scammers have no information of browsing history.

“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.

“Our advice is simple. If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. No matter how good the offer is, or how convincing these cold callers sound or emails seem, be wary of any contact out of the blue.
“If you have any suspicions at all about a call you receive, hang up and phone the organisation the person is claiming to represent to check their authenticity. Ideally, make the call from another telephone so you can be sure the original caller has not remained on the line. Never be pressured into a transaction over the phone.

“If you've had an experience like this, or require any further advice and information call us on 101. Advise and information can also be obtained by visiting nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page.

“And remember if you can spot a scam, you can stop a scam.”