POLICE are advising residents in Down, Ards, Castlereagh, and North Down to continue to be cautious when dealing with unsolicited letters, texts, calls, or emails offering loans or to release money, refund fees, pay lottery wins, or give away holidays and prizes.
A couple reported recently receiving a letter purporting to be from the ‘Commonwealth of Nations Online Lottery’ outlining a substantial lottery win and asking for banking information to ‘release the funds’.
A police spokesperson said: “Fortunately the couple recognised the letter for what it was, a scam, and immediately contacted police.
“In another incident a Ballynahinch resident was duped into paying more the £350 in Ukash vouchers as ‘advance fees’ for a loan originating with an unsolicited call.
“People are reminded that scammers are inventive and can be very convincing, however, each scam has just one purpose – to tempt you into dropping your guard.
“Always be especially wary of any company or individual that asks for money upfront, it is highly unusual for any legitimate organisation to demand a fee in order to release a prize.
“Stop and think – if you haven’t recently challenged your bills or bank fees then why expect an offer of a refund? If you haven’t entered a competition for a holiday or if you haven’t entered a foreign lottery, then how would it be possible for you to have won a prize? If you haven’t inquired about PPI payments or personal injury compensation, then why would someone be offering to pay it?
“Guarding your personal and banking details is essential as well. Never disclose them to any unauthorised person. Your bank will never contact you asking for account numbers, passwords or PINs.”
The police warned, if you have received a contact of this kind or are concerned by the intent of a financial promise or unsolicited calls, emails or letters, then please report it to them on the non-emergency telephone 0845 600 8000.