A BLACKWATER woman who was the victim of an online scam – which police told her was one of the “cleverest” they had ever seen – has spoken out about her ordeal in a bid to warn others to be vigilant with their social media accounts.
Julie Quinn was informed by police that the scam which affected at least four other people in the Dungannon and Benburb areas over the last week, had the potential to make £1 million for the culprits behind it.
The mum-of-two was left feeling scared and upset after falling victim to the trap set by the criminals who sent her a private message from the name and profile of one of her Facebook ‘friends’.
“This account which used the name and profile of a good friend of mine sent me a message asking if I used Paypal and whether it would be ok for her to have a payment sent to my account and then give her the money”, Julie explained.
“Of course, to me it just looked as though this was my friend messaging me because she was using words and little ‘x’s’ at the end of her sentences, just like friends would do.”
After sending the scammer her email address for Paypal, Julie’s account received two payments of £295.40 within a short space of time, but it was only when her ‘friend’ asked for Julie to transfer the money to her bank account to allow her to pay an urgent bill, that alarm bells began to ring.
“I started to think something wasn’t right and then shortly afterwards I got an email from Paypal to say that my account had been frozen because there had been illegal activity on it.
“I feel so stupid but everyone I have been speaking to has been very supportive and said it would have been very difficult to spot this as a scam because of the way it was done.
“I’ve had sleepless nights over it since it happened, and one of my sons asked me if their birthday money and money they had raised for charity had been stolen.
“I suppose the only positive thing to come out of it is that I have sat down with my older son and explained to him that the people you are in contact online are not always the people you think they are.”
The PSNI told the Herald there were simple steps internet users should take to keep their accounts secure. “Police would warn everyone to always be wary of emails and social media messages asking for money or financial details to be forwarded,” said a police spokeperson.
“These messages appear to be very convincing however do not be fooled into giving out personal or banking details online. Be sceptical, if something is suspicious about the correspondence, it usually is a scam.”
Posted: 2:36 pm March 1, 2018