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Avon and Somerset Police are warning people to be on their guard against a telephone scam, which involves a fraudster claiming to be an official from Amazon. The bogus official called the victims on their landline and said they were from Amazon and querying either an issue with a payment or a problem with the victim’s Prime membership. We are aware of three incidents in the Avon and Somerset force area – two of the victims have lost a combined total of almost £15,000. During the call a pre-recorded message invites the victim to press 1 on their phone to link to an operator. A long conversation follows in which the victim is asked to re-connect to the caller via a computer or mobile device and then allow Amazon to link to their account. While they continue to talk to the victim, they ask them to log on to their online banking via the remote device to check whether a refund has been made to their bank. The caller talks to the victim, distracting them from looking at their device, while money is quickly transferred from their bank, or even an application for a loan made while the banking session is open. Amazon will never call and ask for personal information, including bank PiN numbers and passwords. Any attempts for permission to remotely access your computer or phone should be a red flag warning. If you are suspicious or uncomfortable about the call, finish it immediately and call the company who claimed to call you, using their official number and try to use a different phone to ensure the telephone line has not been held by the scammer. If any link to your device has been added by the scammer – such as TeamViewer – have it professionally removed and keep the device disconnected from the internet.
Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens said: “Phone scams are operating across Avon and Somerset and it is important for everyone to remain vigilant. Please read Avon and Somerset Police’s advice about potential scams and, as it tends to be the elderly and vulnerable who are targeted by offenders, share information with family, friends and neighbours.” General advice from Avon and Somerset Police Neither the police nor the banks will ask you for banking details or PiN numbers on the phone. Similarly, they would never send a so-called ‘courier’ to collect bank cards or money. Our message is – don’t discuss your finances with anyone who calls you out of the blue, even if they claim to be a police officer or a representative from a bank fraud department or even a well-known company. Genuine callers will be happy for you to make an appointment to visit them at a bank branch or police station or for you to call them independently to verify that they have been trying to contact you. The police and banks will never ask you to withdraw cash on their behalf; arrange for cash to be collected by a courier; ask for details about your bank card; or ask for the PiN on your card. If you know someone who may be vulnerable to this type of offence, please speak to them and share our crime prevention tips and remind them of the threat from telephone fraudsters. We would also appeal to taxi drivers, who are asked to collect parcels or take people to banks to withdraw large sums of cash – especially the elderly – to be vigilant and contact us if they are suspicious.