More than £7 million has been stolen from Scottish businesses and individuals through cyber crime in less than a year.
Police said officers are investigating 19 cases that have taken place since last July conning people through emails, phone calls or text messages in scams known as phishing, vishing and smishing.
Each incident has seen criminals using genuine-looking phone numbers or email addresses and claiming to work for a bank or company that needs to verify the victim’s bank account details or personal information.
Once obtained they empty accounts of money with £7m stolen over the 19 cases since summer 2017.
Police Scotland is warning the public to be alert and aware that banks do not contact customers asking for personal information or to carry out a transaction.
Detective Chief Inspector Jim Robertson, from the Economic Crime and Financial Investigation Unit, said: “Banks will not contact businesses or individuals asking for personal information or ask you to carry out a transaction. If someone starts asking for these details end the call and contact your bank. If you decide to ring back and verify the call it is advisable to do so on a different phone line like another landline or your mobile. If you are still unsure, consider visiting your local branch instead of speaking to someone over the phone.”
A hospice was among a host of businesses hit by a banking scam in the Highlands last year, while Premiership football team Hamilton Academical was defrauded of almost £1m in another high-profile scam. Police said organised criminal gangs operating in the UK, Europe and further afield are behind the scams.
Inspector Robertson added: “People make sure that their house and cars are locked and secure, and the same policy should be adopted online. Simple things like making sure you use strong passwords for personal and business accounts and being wary when accessing public or open wi-fi can help.”
Vishing crimes involve contacting a victim by telephone or voice messages pretending to be from the victim’s bank or a reputable company and persuading the victim into revealing personal information, such as bank details. Smishing frauds are conducted in the form of text messages, and phishing involves emails.