How hackers tried to trick me into paying fake vet's bill – Helen Martin

Computer hacking is a crime that grows and grows across the world.

Monday, 31st May 2021, 12:30 pm
The authorities need to clamp down on computer hackers and cybercriminals, says Helen Martin (Picture: Tim Goode/PA)

But, for some, hacking itself doesn’t register as a crime with fines or imprisonment because it could be an attempt by adventurous, technological, silly teenagers rather than criminals carrying out fraud, money laundering or straight theft.

My terminally ill dog was treated by both our local Edinburgh vet and another vet in Glasgow who is also a homeopathic specialist with extra medication.

I emailed her to let her know she had helped us for months but his cancer had advanced. She replied asking for a photo, which I took and sent, expecting her reply the next morning.

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The reply was “thank-you” and a document for “remittance advice” three days later. When I tried to open it there was a warning of it being illegitimate. I then noticed there was a bracket naming her surgery in her email address which wasn’t normal. So, I phoned the surgery.

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The receptionist told me they had been hacked and so had not been able to read their emails. They had no idea who did that or why, but one reason could have been to persuade clients to pay fake bills. I deleted these dodgy emails.

When your pet is terminally ill, but still enjoying a less active life, it’s a sad, nervous time. And very dangerous if someone is trying to con you with a fake bill. There are cybercrime lawyers who can defend most hackers and few are prosecuted.

I wish they faced some penalty for upsetting or frightening people – even if they hadn’t managed to steal a penny.

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