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Ladies in Lavender

Paranoia caught up with me last week. I had been reading about the next wave of phishing scams, when I received an email to my Hotmail account, confirming that my seat had been reserved to see ‘Ladies in Lavender’ at a cinema in Finchley and that my credit card had been debited by £15.00 for two tickets by the Vue Cinemas online Box Office



Finchley is about one hundred miles from where I live, I had no desire to see Ladies in Lavender and who, I wondered, had used my credit card. Alarm bells started sounding loudly in my head and I was tempted to call the 08712 customer service number on the email, which stated “If any of the details shown are incorrect please call customer services.” At this point, I decided that it had to be a clever fraud. The first thing anyone is going to do is call the number and if this happens to be a Premium Rate line, then someone, somewhere, is likely to be making a great deal of money if he’s spammed a few hundred thousand email accounts in the UK.

My next step was to call BT and ask if the telephone number was indeed a Premium Rate line. The operator appeared to confirm that it was and suggested a call the telephone regulator ICSTIS, so my suspicions appeared justified.

Next Step then, was to call Visa and then my friends at the National Hi-tech Crime Unit to report what looked like a clever fraud. The latter very efficiently confirmed that the telephone number was in fact that of the Finchley Road cinema and not a premium rate line, which rather left me wondering why the BT operator thought it was. The Police called the cinema manager, who in turn confirmed that a booking had been made in my name and with my email and both Visa and the cinema then assured me that my own credit card hadn’t been used but were unable to tell me who the owner of the credit card for the booking might be.

I’m now looking rather embarrassed. I’ve involved the Police, BT and Visa and still I’m no clearer why someone has booked a cinema seat in my name and with my hotmail address. There is however a moral to the story because as a fraud, there are several quite similar versions in circulation. Frighten the email recipient into calling a premium line in Colombia and before the authorities can act, the bad guys have collected their money and moved on to the next scam. The real message here is that confidence in the online medium, at least on my side, is declining fast. Instead of a trusted environment the Internet is increasingly viewed with suspicion unless I recognise the person on the message header and even then, one can never be certain that anyone is who they say they are anymore.

In conclusion, there’s an unsolved mystery here but one that clearly illustrates how easily one might be lured into an Internet fraud, with the simple sentence, “The total amount that has been charged to your Credit Card is GBP15. If any of the details shown are incorrect please call customer services on 08712 000 000.” How do we tell anymore what’s true and what’s not. I obviously can’t, can you?

Comments

Dewdrop said…
Scary!
jordan said…
Exquisite information on investment fraud. I have a investment fraud secrets blog if you want to see some cool stuff.
emily said…
Excellent discussion on investment fraud. I bookmarked your blog. I have my own investment fraud blog if you want to take a look.

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