A woman whose suspicions stopped her falling for a scam by someone claiming to be a police officer is sharing her experience to help protect other people.
Lesley Wyld was at home in Matlock, Derbyshire, earlier this month when she was phoned by a man claiming to be a detective working with her bank, First Direct.
The caller asked Lesley if she had transferred two large sums of money totaling £9,000 to Heathrow Airport - which she had not.
As is often the case, the scammer then told Lesley her accounts were at risk, and she needed to act fast to secure her savings and prevent further catastrophic losses.
“Stay on the line,” he urged her. “Time is of the essence.”
The so-called police officer went on to ask Lesley, 74, for the long number on her card - assuring her all along that he was acting urgently to protect her money.
Fortunately, the day before, Lesley had watched the first video of Derbyshire Constabulary's Sock It to the Scammers campaign. In it, a bright pink sock puppet named Claude pops out of a biscuit tin to warn an elderly woman that she is about to fall for a courier fraud scam. You can watch the video at the bottom of this page.
The script used in that video was based on real life scam calls – and sure enough, the fraudster targeting Lesley parroted many of the same lines.
“You can trust me,” he told her when she questioned what he was saying. “You need to focus on sorting out your accounts.”
Lesley’s suspicions were raised further when the bogus detective asked her to take her card to the Matlock branch of HSBC and hand it in. At this point, she terminated the call, phoned her bank on a trusted number and was put straight through to the fraud team.
“I think the next step is that he was going to be actually at the bank, waiting outside to intercept me before I took it in,” Lesley said.
“I felt extremely good for a start because I hadn’t been scammed and it was my doing that I hadn’t been scammed.
“But then I must admit I was concerned as to how they’d got my number and why I’d been picked and targeted. It did affect me that way.
“He was extraordinarily good. Never have I encountered anybody able to deliver exactly what he thought his target wanted and needed. It was extremely well done.”
Lesley said that during the call, she remembered some of the lines from the campaign video, which convinced her that the man at the end of the phone was a criminal.
She now hopes that sharing her story as part of the campaign will help raise awareness of the tricks fraudsters use, and may protect other people from falling victim.
She said: “I was very mindful of the pink sock that I’d seen before and it sort of raised a pink sock flag in my mind saying, ‘just be careful here’.
“Don’t trust anything on the phone. It’s as simple as that, and equally that applies to emails and so on. Until you’ve verified it exactly and precisely, and checked with an authentic source such as your bank, don’t do it.”
#SockItToTheScammers focuses on all types of fraud and advises people to remember the following words if they think they might be targeted by scammers - Stop, Think, Tell.
Stop before clicking a link, giving your information or following the instructions from the caller.
Think about what they’re asking for, and why they say they need it. Banking and personal information is very valuable so consider carefully before giving any details.
Tell another person or organisation. If you’re still not sure about this request, talk to someone you trust - if you’re ever in doubt, try and verify what’s being asked and look for further advice.
If you think you might have been a victim of courier fraud, a scam, fraud or online crime (cybercrime) you can report it by contacting us on the details below, or to Action Fraud, the national reporting centre, online at www.actionfraud.police.uk, or on 0300 123 2040.
You can also anonymously contact the independent charity CrimeStoppers, on 0800 555 111, or by visiting the CrimeStoppers website: https://crimestoppers-uk.org.
Watch Lesley tell her story via a video produced by Derbyshire Constabulary...
Watch the original #SockItToTheScammers video which Lesley watched and recalled...
Report all Fraud and Cybercrime to Action Fraud by calling 0300 123 2040 or online. Forward suspicious emails to email@example.com. Report SMS scams by forwarding the original message to 7726 (spells SPAM on the keypad).