Warning: How Fife man was targeted in hi-tech scam

Keith Christie.
Keith Christie.

A Fife B&B owner who lost £6300 to a notorious group of scammers who conned bank customers out of £113m, is warning people to be on their guard.

Kirkcaldy B&B owner Keith Christie was lured in by a fake security alert after a call from someone claiming to be from his bank.

But little did he know that he was one of 750 businesses and individuals across the UK who had been scammed by a highly sophisticated scheme led by Glasgow man Feezan Choudhary.

The gang were able to manipulate phone networks to make it appear that they were calling from certain numbers.

Now Keith’s case is one of a number being highlighted in a new series of Stopping Scotland’s Scammers on STV.

“It was very, very slick,” said Keith.

“A woman with a Scottish accent phoned claiming to be from my bank, she said there had been some suspicious activity on my account, even though I hadn’t used my card recently.

“She said they would put a stop on it but would need to create a new account for me. That’s when I asked her ‘how do I know you’re really from the bank?’.

“She told me there was a phone number for the bank on the back of my card, and she’d have a colleague call me from that number. Sure enough the number came up on my mobile so it looked real enough.”

The scammers then transferred Keith’s money into the ‘new’ account, and he didn’t realise what had happened until he spoke to a friend who had taken a similar call.

But aside from appearing to be calling from a recognised number, Keith said that the apparently professional manner of the caller made it all the more feasible.

“She wasn’t forceful, she came across as being quite pleasant, and they weren’t in a rush. The whole process took the best part of 45 minutes.

“I felt so stupid. I used to think I was quite sharp on the up-take, but it is hard to handle. I only told immediate family as I was so embarrassed.

“For weeks afterwards I had this sick feeling in my stomach that I can’t describe.

“I put my hands up to stupidity, but I also felt let down by the bank. They often give out general information about scams, but they should give more details about specific scams and what to watch for.

“The banks are the first to find out things like this.”

And Keith is keen to warn others to be vigilant againsts potential scams.

“When you get calls and things claiming to be from the bank, just treat everything with suspicion. That’s what I do now.

“That people without any conscience could scam normal hard working folk out of the money they’ve earned is just sickening.”

Keith’s case is one of many which will be highlighted on the STV programme.

Elizabeth Partyka, deputy director of channels at STV, said: “Financial crime is far more common than we’d like to think and these real-life stories show that anyone of us could fall victim to a scammer. In this new series, our experts will share their top tips and offer practical advice to help viewers stay one step ahead of fraudsters and their ever changing tactics.”

The Choudhary case, a highly sophisticated scheme, has been described as Britain’s biggest ever cyber scam.

Feezan Hameed Choudhary was last year jailed for 11 years.

• Stopping Scotland’s Scammers can be seen on on STV this Friday at 8pm.