Investigation into hospice cyber scam continues

Cyber crime victim web

Police have warned businesses in the Highlands to take extra care against cyber crimes

12th September 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

The full extent of a cyber crime which hit a Scottish charity has been revealed.

Police have said that £4.76 million has been stolen from companies in Scotland in a recent vishing scam.

The Highland Hospice was one of those targeted, losing several hundreds of thousands of pounds when fraudsters called claiming to be from the charity’s bank and used software to use phone numbers and send emails that seemed genuine.

Much of the money – around £2.5m – was taken from businesses in the Highlands between 19 and 30 July, and police have asked people there to be extra careful.

Detective Inspector Iain McPhail said: “These incidents are unusual in their scale for the Highlands but there is nothing to suggest that the north of Scotland is being particularly targeted.

“However, I would again urge people to be on their guard against unsolicited calls from someone claiming to be from their bank. Always double check numbers you're given to call back on or call through the main customer care number for the organisation and ask to be put through.”

DI McPhail said that some of the money taken from the hospice had been recovered, and that an investigation is ongoing.

He said: “Any activity of this nature is unacceptable but to defraud money from a charity with the primary purpose of providing palliative care is utterly disgraceful. We are carrying out a thorough investigation into this incident and other businesses involved.”

Bosses at the charity said that the crime will not have an immediate impact on operations, and that additional security measures have been put in place.

Highland Hospice chief executive Kenny Steele said: "There is resilience built into the hospice financial systems to cope with these types of risk to ensure that our top priority of patient and family care and wellbeing is protected. We have put in additional security measures and we are working with the police and banking authorities to work on recovery of the funds and track the perpetrators.”

Highland Hospice chairman Forbes Duthie said: "Staff at the hospice have been shocked and devastated by this despicable and sophisticated cyber crime.

“The stolen funds had been raised through the generosity and significant efforts of Hospice fundraisers and supporters to help us care for our patients and support their families which makes the crime especially abhorrent."