HIGH tech cyber criminals are targeting East Lancashire residents and business owners, police have warned.
The warning was issued after fraudsters conned an Accrington businesswoman out of Â£140,000.
Using a method of fraud known as â€˜vishingâ€™, fraudsters contacted the shop owner, who wished to remain anonymous, a number of times last month and tricked her into handing over the businessâ€™ account details. They then used the details to impersonate her on internet banking systems, making a number of transactions.
Police launched an investigation and issued advice to help both business owners and members of the public to avoid falling victim to cyber fraudsters.
PC Mark Aldridge from Lancashire Constabularyâ€™s Economic Crime Unit said: â€œThis increasingly common method of fraud has been used in as many as 40 other frauds nationally, with losses possibly running into millions of pounds.
â€œThese offenders display a high degree of competence and a thorough knowledge of online banking and account management systems, which can make them appear very genuine and legitimate.
â€œIt can occur over a number of weeks until the fraudsters eventually gather enough details to take control of the account and make transactions on it.â€
A common technique is for fraudsters to ask for only part of the username or password. Some internet banking systems only require certain numbers/letters to access accounts and it may be these they are asking for, police said. The fraudster may collect different numbers and letters over several calls until they have the complete username and password.
Police warned people not to accept unsolicited calls from any bank enquiring about account details or to click any links they may send them which may download spyware onto computers.
People who believe they may have been victims or have been targeted can visit www.actionfraud.police.uk or call 0300 123 2040.