Tallaght residents alerted about recent spate of fraudulent phone calls

by Padraig Conlon
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Tallaght residents have been warned about phone scammers attempting to trick people into handing over personal information.

The warning comes from Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe who says an increase in fraudulent calls to local residents is a “worrying development”.

“I want to alert constituents of a fraud that is currently doing the rounds locally and seems to be on the increase,” he said.

“It is a worrying development and involves a phone call on a landline or a mobile phone where the owner is convinced that there is an upgrade of the broadband available and that they need to take certain steps or wait months for an alleged update.

“The call in some cases sounds like its coming from a computer but it is usually followed up by the fraudster claiming that they are updating the broadband software and they need you to turn on your laptop or desktop computer.

“They then talk the householder into a series of moves while all the time they are hacking and skimming the phone or computer for personal details including passwords and bank details.”

Deputy Crowe said the scammers have managed to gain the confidence and trust of many locals who have been left surprised, shocked and angered.

“One Tallaght resident I spoke to this week said he was surprised at how gullible he was, and even more frightening, how convincing the fraudster was,” he said.

“It was only after a whole series of unusual personal questions that he became wary and hung up on the unsolicited call. 

“They said they wanted to check the speed of his broadband, and could do this through his phone, then asked for his mobile number. 

“They then managed to install an app, instructing him to press the arrow which appeared on his home screen, allowing them to have total control of his phone and everything on it.

“He then had to go through the procedure of ringing his bank, cancelling his cards and going to a provider to get his phone cleared.

“His next stop was to call to the Garda Authorities in Tallaght where the officer on the desk informed him that it was the sixth complaint he had dealt with in as many days.

“This person would say he would not be easily fooled, but the scammer, a woman in this case, was very convincing.

“Co-incidentally his broadband provider was upgrading the area and he had contacted them because of difficulties he was having.

“This constituent later asked his son to check the location of the number that rang him and he found out it was an address in Spain.”

Currently Gardaí are restricted in investigating phone scams due to a High Court ruling which found that allowing data from phones to be retained and accessed is in breach of EU law and the European Convention on Human rights because it is not reviewed by a court or independent authority before it is accessed.

A data retention bill is at an advanced stage and is expected to be published later this year but until then Gardai are being prevented from investigating a lot of phone scammer cases.

Deputy Crowe said this new type of fraud is growing in momentum because scammers are becoming more successful in gaining access to personal information and banking details of more people.

“Another resident told me that a woman called Lorraine convinced her to spend €70 to fix her computer and another €120 to buy updated software,” he said.

“The same elderly woman rang Virgin Media after she discovered the fraud and they told her that they had received about 70 similar calls from distressed customers.

“Eir customers are also complaining about getting similar calls and being targeted by the calls.

“We all increasingly keep sensitive information on our computers mainly because its handy, the majority of forms we fill out are on some type of device, every aspect of our lives is written down somewhere, holidays we book are all online, the list is endless.

“Never ever give personal information to callers no matter how convincing they appear and if in doubt always contact legitimate providers whose phone number is always on your bill.”

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