Cyber gang strike again in banking fraud attack

POLICE have warned Inverness firms to be on high alert for more cyber raids after another hit in the Highlands.

A company was struck earlier this week in a vishing attack.

And Police Scotland stressed that businesses should be on their guard.

The raid follows a multi-million blitz of Highland firms in an 11-day period in July which netted almost £2.5 million from a single figure number of firms.

Raiders have used spoof phone calls claiming to be from the bank used by the companies, saying their accounts have been hacked. They then insist victims switch money to a so-called safe account in a number of instalments.

Highland Hospice lost about £500,000 in a sickening fraud, but a five-figure sum was quickly recovered.

And a top official with the city centre for terminally ill people is confident that police and bank anti-fraud teams can recover an even bigger chunk of the money stolen from their account.

Kenny Steele, chief executive of the city hospice, reckons cops and bank staff can recoup more from discussions with cyber teams.

He said: “We are hopeful that a six-figure sum can be recovered over the next few weeks.

“Our fingers were crossed that it was not as bad as it first appeared and we got some money back quickly.

“Now we are very hopeful it is one of those situations where we get more.

“The Bank of Scotland anti-fraud team has been working really hard on this and, as far as I understand, the criminals put the money in a lot of different places.

“And it is now a question of how quickly the bank can trace that before it disperses further.

“These criminals are very organised, but we are sure the bank is doing everything it can to recover the money

“We’ve been told it is going to take probably two or three weeks until we have a firm picture.”

Mr Steele told earlier how, in an appalling move, the cyber attack had tried to steal money from hospices throughout the UK and he disclosed that one place in England had suffered a £250,000 loss.

He added: “The bank says it is hopeful of recovering some more of the money … it has been a great relief for everyone involved to hear that.”

Police Scotland’s economic and financial investigation unit is stepping up its hunt for the individuals who they say use “genuine-looking communications.”

Detective Inspector Iain McPhail said: “It shows that these fraudsters are still operating despite recent publicity about their activities.

“And the public should remain on their guard against these unsolicited calls.

“These criminals are very convincing and the consequences of their actions can be devastating.

“It is disappointing to receive a report of these tactics being employed against another business in the Highlands.

“We are in the early stages of a thorough investigation and, as we have done with other businesses, we will work with the relevant banks to recover as much money as possible.”

He highlighted the method of attack by the cyber gang and warned: “Always double check numbers you’re given to call back on, or call through the main customer care number for the organisation.

“If you are still unsure, consider visiting your local branch instead of speaking to someone over the phone.

“The fraudsters often use spoof numbers, making the call appear as though it is coming from a genuine bank number.

“And it is for this reason police advise that if you call your bank back then you should use a different phone to the one the initial call was received on.

“Remember, your bank will never ask you to transfer money to a new safe account in an unsolicited call.”

The latest victim asked for their details to be withheld.

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