Sussex Police are urging people to be wary of software scams after the Force has received 77 reports from vulnerable victims so far this year with losses totalling £154,454. The average loss has been around £2,000.

The scam typically involves the victim being told they have been hacked or their computer has a virus. They’re advised they need to install software, pay money or hand over details to protect their device from further damage. 

A 60-year-old woman in Brighton was contacted by a man purporting to be a security technician from Amazon and said her online security was at risk.

She was told had been hacked by someone in California and her IP address was not secure. The victim was advised to download an app which then gave scammers access to her computer. They took her financial and personal details and transferred £7,900 from her accounts. The victim realised and contacted police. 

PC Bernadette Lawrie, Financial Safeguarding Abuse Officer at Sussex and Surrey Police said: “Please be wary if you receive an unsolicited call about the security of your computer. There are fraudsters out there who will try to capitalise on your concern to financially profit. 

“We’re urging people to be careful make sure you know who you’re talking to. Remember – Computer firms do not make unsolicited phone calls to help you fix your computer. Fraudsters make these phone calls to try to steal from you and damage your computer with malware. Treat all unsolicited phone calls with scepticism and don’t give out any personal information. If you feel pressured, hang up and talk it through with a friend or family member”.

If you receive an unsolicited call:

  • don’t allow remote access to your computer
  • don’t be rushed or pressured into making a decision – a genuine bank or another trusted organisation won’t force you to make a financial transaction on the spot; they would never ask you to transfer money into another account for fraud reasons
  • remember to stop and take time to carefully consider your actions
  • don’t make a payment
  • make sure you know who you are talking to – if in doubt, hang up immediately
  • listen to your instincts – if something feels wrong then it is usually right to question it

    Remember that criminals may lull you into a false sense of security when you are out and about or rely on your defences being down when you’re in the comfort of your own home – they may appear trustworthy, but they may not be who they claim to be.