Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has called a spike in fraudulent calls to local residents as a “worrying development”. The Sinn Féin TD warned householders to be alert against unsolicited phone calls from individuals claiming they are from broadband suppliers and looking for personal information and access to their personal phone and laptop.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“I want to alert constituents of a fraud that is currently doing the rounds locally and seems to be on the increase. It is a worrying development and involves a phone call on a landline or a mobile phone where the owner is convinced that there is an upgrade of the broadband available and that they need to take certain steps or wait months for an alleged update.

“The call in some cases sounds like its coming from a computer but it is usually followed up by the fraudster claiming that they are updating the broadband software and they need you to turn on your laptop or desktop computer. They then talk the householder into a series of moves while all the time they are hacking and skimming the phone or computer for personal details including passwords and bank details.

“Unfortunately, when accessing the phone or computer they can get other names of individuals on your database and the cycle of fraud then continues on to someone else and new victims are targeted.

“One Tallaght resident I spoke to this week said he was surprised at how gullible he was, and even more frightening, how convincing the fraudster was. It was only after a whole series of unusual personal questions that he became wary and hung up on the unsolicited call.  They said they wanted to check the speed of his broadband, and could do this through his phone, then asked for his mobile number.  They then managed to install an app, instructing him to press the arrow which appeared on his home screen, allowing them to have total control of his phone and everything on it.

“He then had to go through the procedure of ringing his bank, cancelling his cards and going to a provider to get his phone cleared. His next stop was to call to the Garda Authorities in Tallaght where the officer on the desk informed him that it was the sixth complaint he had dealt with in as many days. This person would say he would not be easily fooled, but the scammer, a woman in this case, was very convincing. Co-incidentally his broadband provider was upgrading the area and he had contacted them because of difficulties he was having.

“This constituent later asked his son to check the location of the number that rang him and he found out it was an address in Spain.

“Another resident told me that a woman called Lorraine convinced her to spend €70 to fix her computer and another €120 to buy updated software. The same elderly woman rang Virgin Media after she discovered the fraud and they told her that they had received about 70 similar calls from distressed customers. Eir customers are also complaining about getting similar calls and being targeted by the calls.”

Crowe continued:

“This new type of fraud is growing in momentum because the scammers are increasingly successful in gaining access to personal information and banking details of more and more people.  We all increasingly keep sensitive information on our computers mainly because its handy, the majority of forms we fill out are on some type of device, every aspect of our lives is written down somewhere, holidays we book are all online, the list is endless.

“I am appealing to residents to be extra wary of these type of calls from alleged broadband providers supposedly seeking to upgrade or sell products over the phone.  Never ever give personal information to callers no matter how convincing they appear and if in doubt always contact legitimate providers whose phone number is always on your bill.

“Internet providers also have a responsibility to their customers and they should be making them fully aware of this practice and offering some useful advice.

“Lastly, I would appeal to the Garda Authorities to ramp up their fraud squad operation and to use their ample resources to alert the general public about this latest scam from these criminals.”