PEOPLE in Larne, Ballygally and Islandmagee claim they have been targeted in an internet security scam.
Two aggrieved victims have contacted the Larne Times to alert others about a telephone caller who told them their PCs were at imminent threat from a virus that would render them useless. He gained access to their computers, probably via email, and tried to charge £222 for fixing the so-called problem.
The unsolicited call lasted an hour-and-half in the case of a Ballygally woman who was eventually persuaded to buy the product, after agreeing with the caller that her computer had slowed down of late. Having at first understood she would be charged £6 a month for an internet security product, she was shocked when she was then asked for £222, which was reduced to £89 when she refused.
When she checked next day with an IT expert and was told she had been scammed, the woman learned from her bank that the payment had gone to an account in India and could not be stopped.
A Larne woman was on the phone for an hour. She was quoted £222, reduced to £175 when she said she could afford it.
“I still couldn’t pay that, so they gave me a number to phone when I did get the money. Twenty minutes after the call, I couldn’t use my laptop. It was full of viruses, kept shutting down after 10 minutes.”
The Larne woman said she had her bank account number changed as quickly as possible after the incident. “Better safe than sorry,” she said.
“My brother was also taken in, but hung up after 15 minutes.”
In each case, the caller was said to have an Asian accent.
Police are warning the public to be vigilant against bogus telephone calls.
H District PSNI advised that no one should ever give out personal details over the phone to unsolicited callers.
“If you are unsure of a caller, or feel that something is not right, then ask for details to ascertain their identity,” they said. “Ask where they are phoning from, where they have got your details from and where they have obtained your telephone number.
“Ask them if there is a number you can phone them back on, or if there is another representative from their company that you can contact.
“If you are still unsure about them, then contact the company or business to check if the call is genuine. “Legitimate companies won’t have a problem with you calling them back.
“Never give any of your personal details over the phone.”
The PSNI urged that anyone who believes they may have been victim of this type of scam, or has any concerns, should contact police on 0845 600 8000.