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A 67-year-old gentleman from the Galashiels area, in the Scottish Borders, has been conned out of over £20,000 in a scam that took place over social media, after he was told to hand over a sum of money.

Reported on by the BBC, the man was convinced into clicking on a link sent to him via social media. The cyber criminals behind the scam suggested that he’d won £150,000 on the lottery, but that he would have to pay a combination of cash and gift cards to get his hands on the cash.

In total, the combined amount that he was scammed for totalled around £21,000. Of course, there was no lottery win and the scammers simply disappeared with the man’s cash.

“On realising he had been the victim of fraud the man reported his concerns to police and we are now carrying out inquiries. We would encourage people to be extremely careful on social media. Sadly, if something seems too good to be true then it probably is not to be trusted.”

Constable Christina Campbell-Falconer, Galashiels Police

It’s important to remember that social media isn’t the only medium used to try and scam you out of your hard-earned money. Cyber criminals will also distribute emails to huge swathes of people in an attempt to steal personal data or cash. This is normally using the same method; providing a malicious link in the hope that the recipient will click onto a compromised website and hand over their personal information.

Educating your elderly family members

Sadly, while most of us understand the risks of such scams conducted over social media or email, those most at risk tend to be the elderly. With less exposure to and experience of the internet, it’s more common to see people of this age fall victim to these types of online scams. That’s why it’s a good idea to make sure that you educate those around you on the dangers of trusting strangers online.

We can’t preach enough the importance of understanding the risks and the red flags associated with unsolicited emails or messages asking for money. So, we’ll reiterate the same advice we always provide for such scenarios:

  • Don’t click on unsolicited links from emails or social media;
  • Don’t hand over payment information to unknown sources;
  • Only deal with companies that you trust and recognise;
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it usually is.

While we’re here, it’s also worth reiterating the advice we routinely give over unsolicited phone calls, as scammers will often target victims over the phone. They’ll sometimes pretend to be calling from your bank or another legitimate source:

  • Be sure that you know who you’re talking to;
  • Don’t hand over any passwords or personal information to strangers;
  • Don’t transfer money into unknown accounts, no matter the reason;
  • If you need to speak to the bank, hang up and dial an official number.

“It is best not to click on an unsolicited link and never send money or personal financial details to someone who has contacted you unexpectedly on social media. The people who carry out frauds like this are well practiced and go to great lengths to appear convincing. If in doubt, do not act immediately and seek advice from a trusted friend or family member.”

Christina Campbell-Falconer

We’re keen to make sure everyone understands the risks of unsolicited links or phone calls, as they’re becoming more and more widespread. If you’d like any more advice or have an issue you want to speak to us about, get in touch with WiseGuys on 0808 123 2820. We can also help to make sure you have the right apps and tools to browse safely online, such as anti-virus software, private connections, and more.