Harrogate used as bait in web scam

Harrogate Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team Sgt Geoff Crocker

Harrogate Police Safer Neighbourhoods Team Sgt Geoff Crocker

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AN INTERNET scam claiming to be based in Harrogate has received international publicity.

The email-based scam, which tells people they have won the lottery in the UK, has been received by people in India.

It asks them to transfer a “release fee” of between £400 and £1,500 – 29,000 to 109,000 Indian rupees – to secure the jackpot.

The message features the logo from BBC1’s The One Show, a picture of Terry Wogan and a picture of the cash, which it said would be transported by British Airways.

Sgt Geoff Crocker of Harrogate Police said he had received several complaints from victims because the message included a PO Box address in the town.

He said: “The email says that the BBC lottery payment centre is in Harrogate, but actually there is no real link here.

“It is quite sophisticated. There are all these iconic British, trustworthy logos but if you sent that to someone in this country, they would immediately realise The One Show has nothing to do with the lottery and nor has British Airways.

“If you aren’t familiar with British society, you wouldn’t realise that the BBC would not use a Hotmail email address, for example.”

Sgt Crocker said the bank accounts into which the victims had transferred money were all based in India and he had alerted the High Commission.

But he had also contacted the Indian media in a bid to warn people about protecting themselves online and being wary of emails which looked too good to be true.

And he said the same lessons applied to people in the UK, who he said should have good up-to-date internet security, a strong firewall and a willingness to learn about safety online.

“It’s no longer funny to say you are a bit of a technophobe in regards to security and safety on the internet,” he said.

“If you aren’t savvy enough to look after yourself and your children on the computer, don’t have one.

“This kind of activity will be linked to organised crime and international terrorism.

“It’s not some kid in a back room who wants to scam people out of a few hundred quid.”