‘Vishing’ fraud in Highlands nets £2.5m from business victims

Businesses in the Highlands stung by �2.5 million fruad. Picture: Police Scotland
Businesses in the Highlands stung by �2.5 million fruad. Picture: Police Scotland
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A number of businesses in the Highlands have been defrauded of £2.5 million in a banking scam.

Police Scotland have issued a warning after the phone-based scam, known as vishing – fraudsters using their voice to persuade people to reveal bank details – hit companies between 19 and 30 July.

Officers said a number of companies received calls from individuals claiming to work for their bank using genuine-looking phone numbers.

The fraudsters claimed accounts had been compromised and persuaded victims to transfer money to a “safe account” in a number of transactions.

Police did not say how many businesses were caught up in the scam but said some of the money has been recovered, while work continues with banks to get more back.

No arrests have yet been made. Detective Inspector Iain McPhail, from the economic crime and financial investigation unit, described the incidents as “devastating” to victims.

“These fraudsters are very convincing and have managed to obtain a significant amount of money from local businesses.

“We have launched a thorough investigation into these incidents and are working with the companies’ relevant banks. Some of the money that companies have lost has been recovered and work is ongoing to try and recover as much money as possible.

“These incidents are devastating for the people that fall victim to the scams. We are urging the public to be on their guard against unsolicited calls and be suspicious if someone reporting to be from your bank requests any of your bank or personal details as they should already have them.

DI McPhail added: “Always double check numbers you’re given to call back on or call through the main customer care number for the organisation and ask to be put through.

“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.”

Criminals are increasingly using a type of psychological manipulation known as “social engineering” to persuade victims to do what they want despite their better judgement.

They work to build up rapport with their victim, often by studying their social media profiles, and play on a sense of urgency to get then to reveal private banking information.