ELDERLY residents across Edinburgh and the Lothians have been conned out of almost £100,000 after being targeted by a sophisticated scam.
Around ten pensioners in the area have fallen foul of the scam since September, which involves a criminal gang making contact by telephone or e-mail and advising the victim that their debit or credit card details are either faulty or about to expire.
The target is then persuaded to divulge passwords and in some cases PIN numbers.
In one recent case in East Lothian, an 84-year-old woman from Dirleton received a call from a man claiming to be from her bank.
During the call, the man obtained her bank details and said a courier would call at her home to pick up her old bank card and deliver a new one.
A man turned up at the woman’s door on Tuesday and issued her with a new card, taking her current one.
After realising that she was unable to use the new card, the woman contacted her bank and it was discovered that a four-figure sum had been taken from her account.
A spokesman for Lothian and Borders Police said: “The caller was able to sound very convincing and gained the victim’s personal details during their telephone call.
“After learning she had been defrauded, the elderly victim was incredibly distressed and we want people who are contacted by these fraudsters to avoid suffering a similar fate.
“The culprits can be very persistent and convincing during calls – the victims are often not aware that they have divulged information that will ultimately lead to the removal of funds from their account.”
Detective Constable Mike Harris, who is based in the fraud unit at Musselburgh, said the criminals had even been contacting victims’ banks and claiming to be the account holder as part of the scam.
Residents in central Edinburgh, West Lothian and East Lothian are among those to have been targeted. He said around £100,000 had been taken from bank accounts across the Lothians.
He said: “This money has to be taken out of these accounts and the fraudsters recruit mule accounts, where the account holder is paid to allow their account to facilitate the transfer of the funds. These people will also be arrested and charged.”
Police are advising anyone who receives an unsolicited call by someone claiming to be from their bank to hang up immediately and dial 1471 to verify the identity of the caller.
A spokesman said: “Do not agree to disclose your password or PIN numbers, as no bank will ask for these.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 0131-311 3131.