“Fraudsters” of unknown origin have been targeting residents of Jersey and the Isle of Man by posing as financial crime investigators, and in the run-up to Christmas, had fraudulently obtained “some £217,350 on Jersey, officials on that island have said.
According to a statement on the Jersey Police website, which said five reports of the scams had been received thus far, the scammers reached their victims through emails and text messages, and made reference to local companies and businesses in order to appear genuine.
A Jersey Police spokesman later said that “a total of 26 incident logs” had been recorded “from members of the public reporting scam banking texts [allegedly] from Lloyds or NatWest. Of the eight people who lost money in the scams, the amounts ranged from £2,500 to £90,500. (Below left is an image of one of the actual texts received.) Some of the people receiving these texts did not, in fact, have accounts at the bank in question, raising immediate alarm bells.
The text messages tell the receiver that their bank debit card has recently been used and that if they were not the person who had used it, they should call a fraud prevention number, which is then provided.
As the statement on the Jersey Police website points out, the number “is NOT” in fact a fraud prevention number.
“The person on the end of the phone will ask for personal information, such as bank account numbers and pin numbers”, which “real organisations [would] never ask you for”, the statement adds.
Genuine bank communications “will use your actual name, not ‘Sir’, ‘Madam’ or ‘Customer’, and possibly another verification of authenticity such as your postcode or part of your account number”, the police statement continues, adding that the public is advised “never [to] disclose passwords or other personal information in response to an email, phone call, text, social media post or letter purporting to be from your bank or other official organisation, however genuine they may seem”.
Another Jersey Police statement, on Facebook, which appears to be more recent, refers to “a scam that is circulating in both the Isle of Man and Jersey”, which involves individuals “being contacted by fraudsters claiming to be from the Financial Crime Unit” who are attempting to convince these individuals to make payments into a “safe account” set up at either the Clydesdale, Metro or Halifax banks.
In a telephone interview after the New Year, a Jersey Police spokesperson told International Investment: “I am pleased to say that the majority of those calling [the police to report receiving the scam texts] didn’t part with any personal or banking information, and contacted us purely to inform us of the scam. My team went straight to social media highlighting the scam texts via Facebook and Twitter, and this in itself generated calls to us.”
Information on possible scams taking place on the Isle of Man wasn’t available as this article went to press.
The Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum, which was set up in 2015 to raise public awareness of the growing problem of frauds and scammers, particularly among the island’s elderly and vulnerable, also didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
This report was updated on 6 January to include fresh information from the Jersey Police.