Post office staff in North Yorkshire have won praise after they stopped customers falling victim to an online scam.
Staff at Easingwold Post Office noticed that, in the space of 24 hours, they had received the same type of request from two different customers to transfer a significant amount of money via a money transfer service to an unknown account.
They refused to process the transactions and contacted North Yorkshire Police to alert them of their concerns.
On both occasions the fraudsters had called their victims claiming to be from Microsoft and stated that their computers had been infected with a virus and that they could help to fix it.
Commonly, the fraudster convinces the victim to install a remote monitoring program called TeamViewer which allows the fraudster to gain access to the victim’s computer.
Once access has been gained the fraudster claims to have fixed the problem then informs the victim they are entitled to compensation.
The victim is asked to log into their online banking to receive the refund. The fraudster then transfers money from the victim’s saving account into their current account to make it look like compensation.
They then state they have made an error and compensated too much money and ask the victim to send the difference back via a money transfer company.
In both cases in Easingwold the victims were asked to transfer money to Poland via Moneygram.
Had staff at Easingwold Post Office not shown a professional curiosity and processed the requests the victims would have lost between £3,000 and £4,000 each.
Det Insp Jon Hodgeon, head of North Yorkshire Police’s Major Fraud and Economic Crime Unit, said: “Fraudsters are becoming increasingly sophisticated in the way that they deceive people.
“On this occasion the numbers shown on the call display were UK based landlines and the fraudsters claimed to be a well-known computer provider.
“It is a concern that two people in North Yorkshire who live in close proximity have been targeted by the same fraud in the space of 24 hours.
“It may be the case that this fraud team are working through the phone book and other North Yorkshire residents may be targeted.
“These frauds were luckily both prevented by the quick thinking of the Easingwold Post Office who absolutely did the right thing and used the banking protocol to contact North Yorkshire Police.
“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.
“We are appealing to the public and financial institutions to remain vigilant, question uninvited approaches and never give out personal or financial details.”