Beware the 'plausible' scam caller.....

Beware the 'plausible' scam caller.....:  David Julius joins MNO’s squad of columnists

I am usually quite vigilant and particularly careful when the telephone rings and there’s some voice at the other end of the line that isn’t familiar.
However, just the other day, I was caught out. My mobile rang twice, “unknown” read the caller ID and the voice at the other end, sounding extremely convincing said “This is Emilia speaking – from Horse and Hound magazine – it’s about your advert.”
I had of course put an advert in H and H trying to sell my horse lorry and the advert appeared that very morning.
Emilia went on to tell me that the computers had crashed at H and H and politely wanted to know whether I could give her my credit card details again.

I obliged, but she then asked me for my debit card as the first card “hadn’t gone through.”  I then gave her the details of a second card.
When she asked how to spell my name I became suspicious and asked her to send me an email.
I hurriedly, but nervously ended the call. I immediately telephoned my bank manager in London who cancelled the cards.

I then phoned H and H and they told me this was a regular scam and several of their advertisers had been caught out this way – particularly before Christmas last year - and that their bank accounts had been emptied.
In fact, this is such a regular occurrence that H and H has a warning on their website and on emails to potential advertisers. But, as I said to Lucy Williams, who works in the advertising department at H and H and who was extremely sympathetic:  “Who reads the small print?”
Her editor then got in touch with another apology. I suggested writing a “Letter to the Editor” to warn other readers, but she said this had already been done and that the H and H regularly told readers to beware of unknown callers.
My bank manager too was understanding telling me:  “This happens every day. Don’t worry, we deal with this sort of ‘phone scam all the time. But you did the right thing by getting in touch with us straight away.”
Needless to say, I never received that e-mail from Emilia. Neither did I ever hear from her again.
But I could not help thinking to myself how polished and convincing her scheme was, and how lucky I was that I became suspicious at the right moment.
Of course one can always look back in hindsight and sound clever and give some good advice.

However, my new rule is never to speak on the telephone to someone I don’t know or haven’t heard of – whether they’re trying to sell me a solar panel or calling to say I’ve won the lottery.

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