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A 999 call and the credit card scam  (Read 778 times)

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  • drago6650

  • Guest
A 999 call and the credit card scam
A 999 call and the credit card scam that cost me thousands: How an utterly plausible con-trick left John Andrews £7,000 poorer  and feeling a total mug

The con began with phone call from woman claiming to be an inspector

'DCI Seymour' told the couple someone was using cards to buy items

She said the card had been cloned and was being used to make purchases

Con rested on clever technical trick, specialist technology and acting skills

This couple so stupid: how could they have been conned out of more than £7,000 by one phone conversation? The answer is that the scam was brilliant in design and execution.

It began with a phone call after dinner on a  Friday night. His wife answered the phone and the caller announced herself as ‘DCI Jane Seymour of the Serious Fraud Office’.

The inspector was polite and matter of fact. She asked my wife if she had been in the Apple Store on Regent Street that day or the one in Covent Garden? My wife replied that she hadn’t.

But DCI Seymour reported that someone had bought expensive items from these stores using his wife’s debit card — and the transactions had been within four minutes of each other.

Anyone who knows central London knows it is almost impossible to get from Regent Street to Covent Garden in such a short time — something was definitely amiss.

The inspector then broke the news that someone had cloned his wife’s card and was using it to make major purchases. Panicked  by this information, his wife called him over to the phone and asked him to speak to  DCI Seymour.

The inspector explained that the Serious Fraud Office had been monitoring Apple Stores, conscious that the launch of the latest iPhone would make it a target for criminals.

‘Do you have all your cards with you?’ she asked. Yes. ‘Are you sure?’ Yes.

In the background he could hear hubbub that made him think of TV’s The Bill or Prime Suspect: the faint sound of people chatting, the sense that DCI Seymour was at one desk and other detectives were hard at work on the case, too.

Having established that neither his wife or him had been to the Apple Store, she asked if he had noticed any strange transactions on my cards. No, he replied.

‘But we’re worried,’ said the inspector. ‘We think all your cards have been compromised. It may be that someone has hacked into the National Database. We need to block all the cards now.’

Inwardly, he shivered. Does this mean identity theft? ‘Yes, it could be. You’ll need to take part in a police investigation later. But we need to block your cards first.’

Immediately, he was suspicious. Why would she want all their cards? Was DCI Seymour who she said she was? How could they know she was really working for the Serious Fraud Office?

Her ANSWER turned us from cautious sceptics into credulous fools. ‘Call 999 and check me out,’ she urged. So we did. I put the phone down, picked it up again and dialled 999. The dialling tone was normal, the phone rang and the response was as prompt and efficient as a law-abiding citizen could wish for.

Which service did I want? The police. I’ll put you through. When a constable picked up the phone, I asked: ‘Do you have a DCI Jane Seymour of the Serious Fraud Squad?’

‘Yes, I’ll connect you.’ DCI Seymour picked up the phone — her identity verified. In fishing parlance, they were hooked — and were about to be sunk.

‘We can have your cards blocked immediately,’ said DCI Seymour to reassure them. ‘New cards can be delivered to your house in three working days, or five for the foreign cards. But first we’ll need your PIN numbers.’ That should, of course, have rung alarm bells.

How many times have we all been told, ‘Never, never give your PIN number to anyone. Your bank will never ask for it’? they hesitated — and this is where DCI Seymour scored again. ‘Don’t tell me the codes,’ she said. ‘Tap them into the phone and they will be sent straight to our technical team.’

And so, stupidly, they trusted that the digital wizardry was in their interest, they did. And, as they later discovered, using specialist technology, she recorded the numbers.

By this time, they had been on the phone for at least an hour, in a state of shock and growing despair over the hassles that apparently came with ID theft.

DCI Seymour kept reassuring us that all would be well. ‘Are you OK? Do you have enough money for the weekend? We can get you emergency funds of £300 delivered to you by 3pm tomorrow. We’ll debit it from your HSBC account and I’ll call you again tomorrow at noon.’

It was all so comforting. Her  manner was solicitous, reassuring and practical. Then he asked his wife to pour him a glass of wine, DCI Seymour heard him on the other end of the phone. She laughed and said she could do with one, too — but not on duty.

And when she said she would send a courier round to pick up our compromised cards, it seemed so reasonable. ‘Put them in a sealed envelope inside another envelope, and don’t tell the driver what it’s for. We’ll contact him ourselves.’

Almost as if they had been hypnotised, they did as we were told. ‘The driver’s on his way. He’ll be with you shortly.’

He was and, within minutes, as they later discovered, their accounts were being plundered, mostly, it seems, by withdrawals from ATM machines at Euston station. Meanwhile, DCI Seymour kept me on the line, supposedly keeping them abreast of the activities of the criminals who had cloned their cards.

‘There’s been a withdrawal in South London. Someone’s at Euston. We’re watching the CCTV. There’s another withdrawal . . .’

On and on it went, as he and his wife  became increasingly tired and desperate, but DCI Seymour kept them hanging on, saying: ‘Don’t put the phone down. Stay on the line.’

They realise now, of course, that this was to stop them ringing the banks of their own accord. At around  midnight, his wife collapsed into bed, but DCI Seymour kept him on the phone until 1.30am.

He had been speaking to her for two-and-a-half hours. To say they slept badly is an understatement. They tossed and turned, fretting about the money being siphoned out of our accounts.

Breakfast and the cold light of day brought him to his senses. ‘Perhaps, I should call 999 again, just to check,’ he thought.

The operator who answered was annoyed. She told him his case was not an emergency and he should dial 101 for the local police service. With mounting anxiety, he explained that he had dialled 999 the night before and that his call had been put through to an officer.

‘We have no record of a call,’ she said. ‘Ah, hang on a moment. I’ll talk to a colleague.’

And then, with the help of bona fide officers, the truth about the scam was revealed.

It all hinged on a clever technical trick. Quite simply, if you put the phone down, but the other party does not, they stay on the line.

Even if you dial a new number, you remain connected to the original caller. So when he dialled 999, it went back to ‘DCI Jane Seymour’. She must have had an accomplice posing as the emergency services operator and, as easy as that, they fell into their trap.

The Payments Council, responsible for card security, says there has been a three-fold increase this year in incidents of this scam. In the first quarter of 2012, an estimated £750,000 was lost. In total, they lost around £7,000 of their savings.

The police — the real police — have been sympathetic and told them that the con is targeted at the well-to-do and the elderly who may not be as techno-savvy as younger account holders. Mercifully, most of the money has since been credited back to them. The banks conceded they were victims of an understandable gullibility.

Initially, only French bank BNP failed to reimburse them, but eventually (after an anguished protest on his part), it, too, paid up.

Naturally, he and his wife  feel embarrassed and a little sheepish at having been fooled so easily.

In his defence, we can only say that the woman who played ‘DCI Jane Seymour’ was a brilliant actress and this particular bit of financial con-artistry was new to us.

They were lucky the damage done wasn’t permanent and that most of the money has been returned. Others may not be so lucky.

A very modern cautionary tale to others, I am surprised that they got their money back when this was all down, by their own admission, to their gullibility and stupidity.

Sorry if this post goes on for quite a bit but as it was a very clever and new con I thought it might help if I put all the details in

  • Bazzdude

  • Guest
Re: A 999 call and the credit card scam
They should know that the police would not contact you it would be your bank (for debit cards) or the credit card companies

Financial institutions would not (and legally cannot) escalate a fraud inquiry without contacting the customer first

Muppets deserved to be fleeced  ::)

  • drago6650

  • Guest
Re: A 999 call and the credit card scam
 :iagree: But clever scam though

  • Bazzdude

  • Guest
Re: A 999 call and the credit card scam
Very clever

To be fair it's a lot better than mugging an old granny and the customer gets their money back eventually  :)

Sent it to my lady across the road to pass onto her friends  :great:

  • drago6650

  • Guest
Re: A 999 call and the credit card scam
It would be a con against those who are not technologically savvy