Scottish farmers targeted by phone scammers

Fraudsters are back in operation in Scotland, targeting members of the farming community in order to gain access to their bank accounts.

NFU Scotland has warned that members have been in touch in recent days to report calls from fraudsters, particularly in the Lothians and Borders area.

Over the past couple of years, farmers from across the UK have been subjected to a range of phone and online scams with some farmers being tricked into handing over thousands of pounds.

See also: Farmers among top targets for financial fraudsters

In the latest incidents, the caller claimed to be from Royal Bank of Scotland and stated the farmer had fraudulent activity on their account.

Financial Fraud Action UK has flagged a number of schemes, such as criminal gangs posing as someone from a bank’s anti-fraud unit in order to persuade farmers to transfer money between accounts or individuals tricking businesses into changing the bank account payee details on an invoice.

On one occasion the call even appeared to come from a genuine Royal Bank of Scotland number. But when asked by the farmer to confirm their name and local branch, the caller became abusive and hung up.

The farmer has since checked with his bank and they have confirmed this is indeed a scam.

Caught out

NFU Scotland’s finance director Colin Gordon said at such a busy time of year for agricultural transactions farmers could be easily caught out by alarming calls from people claiming to represent their bank’s fraud department. 

“We know that if this is happening in one region it is only a matter of time before other areas are targeted and experience has shown that these tend not to be isolated incidents.

“Your bank will never phone or email you and ask for your online password information or any password using your online banking token or card and reader.  They will never ask you to make a payment over the phone by using your online account.

 “If you receive a call claiming to be from your bank and they suggest that you call them back, ensure you use a different phone as the caller may still be on the line without you knowing.”

Police Scotland has been made aware of the calls, as has the banking provider, and the advice is never to engage with this type of call.

The advice from Police Scotland is:

  • Don’t give out any personal information unless you are the one who made the call and you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to
  • Don’t give out your credit card or bank card details to strangers on the telephone
  • Never tell somebody your bank PIN number, even if they claim to be the bank or police. If the caller is genuine they will never ask for this information
  • Don’t give out information which may infer that you live alone, are older or vulnerable
  • Never send money to anyone who claims to have a prize for you
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is
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