ELDERLY WOMEN have been scammed out of hundreds of thousands of pounds by cyber criminals during the past year.

Sussex Police have investigated 122 reports of computer software service fraud - where a fraudster claims to be from a respectable company.

Many of the victims of this scam, where criminals claim they need to access a computer to fix it, have been women over the age of 75.

Police said they were aware of 46 victims who had each suffered an average loss of £5,082, amounting to a combined loss of £233,760.

Officers are urging people to be vigilant after a rise in this kind of crime during 2021.

One victim, aged 82, received a call from someone claiming to be from BT Engineering, who said her internet connection was no longer secure and needed fixing.

As she had been experiencing issues with her internet connection, she believed this was a genuine call.

The caller then said he needed to access her computer remotely and began downloading a piece of software.

The Argus: Online fraud has risen during the lockdowns.Online fraud has risen during the lockdowns.

The fraudster said he could see that "hackers" had tried to access her online banking, and he could prevent this as he had already caught several of these criminals in the past.

The victim became suspicious and noticed that £14,000 had been illegally withdrawn from her account.

Local officers responded to the report and provided support to the victim.

Sussex Police have now issued tips to avoid becoming a victim of cyber crime:

  • If you receive a call like this hang up, take five and verify the call via a trusted method, not the numbers given in the call.
  • Never allow anyone to remotely access your computer.
  • Do not download software on the request of a phone caller.
  • A genuine service provider will never call you out of the blue regarding issues with your computer or broadband.
  • Microsoft will not request your banking information or personal details to validate Windows software on your devices.

A spokesman for Sussex Police said: "Please pass this advice onto your loved ones, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable.

"If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud call please contact us via Sussex Police on 101 or visit the website."

Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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