A near miss

Last Monday I had a very near miss.

In the early afternoon, when my girlfriend was about to make a nice late lunch, I got a call, which followed this sort of line:

DC Williamson: Hello this is DC Williamson of Hammersimth police. Is Mr Brown in?

Me: Yes speaking, actually is it for me or my father?

DC Williamson: Your father, actually this might concern you too. I’ve apprehended a suspect who claims to be your father’s grandchild and has cloned copies of both your cards.

At this point I’m already stressed. Hearing someone has cloned your cards is never good news and as I’m an only child and don’t have any children.

The conversation continues on, this nice man provides me with his badge number, some reference numbers and asks me to call the number on the back of my bank card to get in touch with my bank. Also saying that I can call him at anytime through 101 and just ask for his department and badge number.

I proceded to call my bank, chat to the nice advisor there who found a payment for an Apple Mac Pro (and made it void) then found a transaction from another of my accounts which could not be stopped. His advice was to withdraw as much money as possible so that the withdrawal limit would stop that transaction from happening at 5pm. He had also had his manager listen back to the phone call which had initiated this transfer and had found that the security on it wasn’t high enough.

The conversation continued at this point a bit like so:

Advisor: Where is your local branch? Can you get to it before 4:30pm when it closes?

Me: Yes, its here.

Advisor: Oh, well there’s actually an investigation going on with local police into that branch and we believe one person in there may be working with these people. When you withdraw the money its essential that you do not mention fraud or anything to that effect. Say you want to buy a new car or something.

Me: Would it be easier to go to another branch?

Advisor: No, its better going to your normal branch and acting casual.

He reeled off some more spiel about how he was now my personal banker and that I shouldn’t talk to anyone else. He would call me back in 30-45 minutes to continue on the process.

Okay, stressed and worried I rushed to my branch, withdrew as much money as possible in cash and came home. There I decided to update DC Williamson on how things were going.

101 Switchboard: Hello, who are you after?

Me: DC Williamson, badge number EK1.

101 Switchboard: There is no one here by that name and that number is fake.

Cue nasty sinking feeling.

All the time speaking to “DC Williamson” and my “bank advisor” I had, in fact, been speaking to the same person. The PC on the switchboard asked if the call had been something along the lines of: A suspect was apprehended with your card cloned. You were told to call your advisor who asked for information as part of security… Apparently this is a growing scam.

I had made a serious PEBKAC error; I assumed “DC Williamson” hung up before I called the bank and I myself didn’t hang up.

I spoke to my bank’s fraud team and just after finishing talking to them I got a call back from the scammer who I told to, polietely, bugger off.

I’ve been back to my local branch to pay the money back in and to inform them of this scam. They gave me a few pointers for the future:

Your bank will never advise you to withdraw money from your account.

Always hang up the phone properly.

If you don’t trust a call, try to keep them on the line and seperately call the police, even if they have withheld their number it may still be traceable (this is something the bank clerks themselves are advised to do).

Luckily I didn’t lose anything other than a little intrest on my account; talking to my family the assumption is that this “advisor” would have had me pay money into a “temporary account” he had set up for me.