Islanders warned to be wary as scam calls rise

ISLANDERS are being warned to be ‘extra vigilant’ as telephone fraud is on the rise, with local firms being targeted by scams tailored to their business.

Police HQ.  Detective Chief Inspector Chris Beechey                                                             Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29428653)
Police HQ. Detective Chief Inspector Chris Beechey Picture: ROB CURRIE. (29428653)

The Jersey Financial Services Commission has warned that times of economic downturn usually prompt an increase in such activity and the Covid-19 crisis has been no exception.

In recent weeks scores of Islanders have reported telephone scams where con artists pretend to be from global companies such as Google or Amazon to extract personal details or other sensitive information. One person noticed that such a call appeared to originate from a Jersey phone number, despite clearly being from overseas.

John Garton, chief executive of Genuine Jersey, said that some members of the organisation appeared to have been deliberately targeted by a tailored scam using their website in the last couple of weeks.

‘We had a notification from one of our members that they had been targeted by a scam, so I sent out an communication to all our members,’ he said.

‘About ten organisations came back and said that they had been targeted as well. The scammers were tailoring the scam to each member and their product, so it seems like they have gone onto the Genuine Jersey website and were using their details from there.

‘We took the decision to escalate the matter to the police and they were very helpful.’

Chief Inspector Chris Beechey, chairman of the Jersey Fraud Prevention Forum, urged residents to contact the police and telecoms companies if they had been targeted by scam calls.

‘Last month we commented that fraudsters are posing as representatives from large reputable global companies to try to obtain banking or subscription details and these calls seem to still be happening,’ he said.

‘While it is difficult for our telecoms companies to block all of these calls, we remind Islanders that they need to inform the police and their telecoms providers if they have been targeted.

‘Our advice is always the same – don’t hand out personal information and if you’re not expecting the call or the content of the call doesn’t sound right then end it.

‘We have a section dedicated to telephone scams on our website, providing further information on how to detect a scam call and what you can do to protect yourself.’

Meanwhile, the JFSC has issued a warning to Islanders to be extra careful when investing their money at this time, with ‘financial misconduct’ likely to increase.

Kerry Petulla, the commission’s acting director of enforcement, said they had seen first hand the ‘devastating consequences’ when someone loses their life savings through bad investments.

She said: ‘In times of economic uncertainty, such as Covid-19 or the financial crash of 2007/8, we do unfortunately see trends of an increase in frauds/scams and also poor professional conduct within the finance industry, with people being misled into making high-risk investment choices that aren’t suitable for their risk appetite.’

Martin Moloney, JFSC director general, said that Islanders needed to carefully consider any investment they made.

‘It is impossible for any regulator to prevent every single case of investors losing money, but we can raise awareness about the risks,’ he said.

‘We ask Islanders always to question carefully whether an investment recommendation is actually in their best interests.’

As part of a campaign during World Investor Week, from 5 October the JFSC will be sharing educational videos and information on investing and misselling on its social media channels and in the local media.

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