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Oban police are urging people to be vigilant as the threat of scammers becomes ‘painfully obvious’.
Oban Community Council this week heard scammers were one of the area’s biggest crime problems with tricksters preying on unsuspecting people through telephone lines and computers.
PC Jeremy Moore told community council members on Monday that the worry was not break-ins through doors and windows anymore, but security intrusions through people’s phones and online.
He said the blight had become ‘painfully obvious’ and told how he had recently been called by a ‘highly educated man’ on Tiree who had lost £1,600 from a bogus Microsoft call.
The man thought he was paying £9 to fix a potential computer problem but just half an hour later when he rang his bank, discovered £1,600 was missing from his account.
‘Every day there’s a different one. It’s a dreadful thing, it’s horrible,’ PC Moore said.
He also told how a different man had been just ‘one click’ away from losing £80,000.
PC Moore added: ‘Thankfully banks are good but you have to work with them and look after yourself.’
The meeting also heard about one woman who nearly had £300,000 swiped from her account in another scam attempt. The money had been in her bank to buy a house. Luckily the dodgy transaction roused suspicions and was also stopped in time.
Emails are also another threat to watch out for. In another con locally, a builder’s email asking for payment informed the householder he had changed his bank account details. A significant amount of money was lost. It turned out the email address was just one character different from the genuine builder’s address.
Last year The Oban times reported a spate of fake bank calls targeting people on Mull. More than 10 people across the island lost money totalling thousands of pounds after receiving calls from scammers pretending to be from the Clydesdale Bank’s own fraud squad.
An 84-year-old Oban man was also saved from having his account drained when his daughter visited him while he was on the phone to ‘Microsoft’ – he had been talking to the scammer, who had remote access to his computer, for around two and a half hours until his daughter ended the call.
Oban duty sergeant Graeme Greenlaw told The Oban Times: ‘Scamming is not isolated to Argyll at all but it is a problem and people must be on their guard against it. I don’t know if people here are maybe more trusting or just less aware of the risks and consequences.’
An Argyll and Bute Council spokesperson said: ‘The methods used by scammers are becoming more sophisticated, making it more important than ever to be wary of unsolicited calls, emails and post. If something doesn’t sound quite right, trust your instinct. Never provide any personal information or bank details, and report anything suspicious to Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 1646000.’
In a bid to help keep communities safer, Police Scotland will be bringing an awareness road show to Oban’s Station Square on Monday June 17 from 10am to 4pm.