Scammers steal more than £60k

More than £60,000 has been stolen from bank accounts across Wigtownshire this week as part of a nasty telephone scam.

Two Newton Stewart women lost almost £30,000 at the weekend and a man in Stranraer more than £15,000 just two days later, and it’s feared scores more may have unwittingly emptied their accounts.

Many have reported receiving calls from banks but picked up on the scam before losing any cash. However, not everyone was so lucky.

One 70-year-old woman handed over £18,000 after receiving a call at 10.30pm on Saturday from a man claiming to be from her bank telling her that hackers in Spain were trying to access her account.

The convincing phone calls from supposed customer service agents at various banks – those known to have been used are RBS, Bank of Scotland, Nationwide and TSB – always follow the same routine by informing the victim there has been fraudulent activity on their accounts. Often the name Steven Anderson of the fraud department is used by the caller to introduce himself.

He then advises the victim to either call back a certain number or hold the line while they are transferredto the security department who will help them transfer their cash into a “safe” account while investigations are carried out.

However, there is no transfer to another department and the scammer then pretends to be a colleague who talks the victim through the transfer.

A near-victim in Newton Stewart told The Gazette she was minutes from losing everything but hung up at the last second.

She said: “It gave me a real fright because it sounded just like any other call from my bank. It was only when I said I’d check my online account that he hung up.”

Another woman duly took advice from the scammer and transferred her money but received a call minutes later from the same voice purporting to be from another bank giving her the same spiel and she realised her mistake. She called her real bank immediately where fraud teams had thankfully spotted the unusual activity and blocked the tranfer.

Police want to hear from anyone contacted by such a caller, whether they actually became a victim or not.