March Crime Prevention Blog

Scams by Crime Prevention & Architectural Liaison Officer Gerry McBride

Gerry Don’t fall victim to the scammer!

There are a huge number of online, telephone, postal and in person scams doing the rounds. Listed below are just three of the most popular. Check out the useful links at the bottom of this article for further information and advice.
Definition of Scam – a dishonest scheme; a fraud

Scams come in all shapes and sizes, and falling victim to one of them can have devastating long lasting consequences.

Microsoft Scam

This scam has been around for more than a decade. The scammer makes contact with a potential victim by telephone, telling them that their computer is infected with a virus and “we can help here and now”. The scammer will ask the victim to enter an internet address into their browser (Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera, Fire Fox etc) allowing them access to your computer. From there they can access: internet banking, private messages, social media accounts, personal photos and more information.

The scammer will claim they have fixed your computer and now you owe them money. The most popular we see is £150 but this does change. If you refuse you will see the scammer changes personality and becomes very angry, threatening and intimidating.

Advice: Our advice would be to end the call. If access has been granted to the computer, shut it down and take it to your local computer shop. They will be able to look through your device and help safeguard you. There is a cost to the service which ranges from £35 to £60 but this is worth it to keep you safe.


This can start in various ways but we are going to talk about one in particular, which is going around at the moment.

The scammer will contact you stating they are from Teesside Crown Court (or other Court) and you owe money to HMRC. At this point potential victims start to panic and become isolated from others around them. They will claim that they have sent correspondence to your home address and that you have ignored them.

They will start to make threats that the Police are coming to arrest you unless you pay £1000. But there’s a catch, there always is! They want the funds in iTunes vouchers or Steam vouchers. They will demand that you drive to your local shop to get these vouchers.

Advice: Our advice would be to put the phone down and get some advice from a friend/family member, or you can contact 101.

Always remember that a genuine company will not contact you demanding items/money, you will always have the opportunity to ask for advice.

Lottery and Prize Draw Scam

This scam does crop up as a postal, online and telephone scam. We’re going to focus on the phone calls you may get.

You may get a phone call from a scammer stating that you have won the lottery or you have entered into a prize draw that you never knew about. The amount that you’ve won will often be in excess of £10,000 and will be very tempting. As it will likely be a foreign lottery or prize draw you will have to pay a percentage of these none existent winnings to get the funds through customs.

Advice: You will never win money if you have never entered a lottery. If it sounds too good to be true, it most probably is.

Always go and get some advice before making any decisions to part with personal details or funds.

And finally…

Look out for your relatives, friends and neighbours. Have a conversation with them about scams. People don’t always like to let others know that they’ve been a victim. You could help someone avoid being scammed.

Useful Links

Little Book of Cyber Scams https://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Document-Library/Cyber-Crime-Booklets/NERSOU-LBOCS-Online.pdf

Little Book of Big Scamshttps://www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Document-Library/Cyber-Crime-Booklets/NERSOU-LBOBS-Fourth-Edition-Online.pdf

Action Fraud – this organisation helps to collate information about scams from within the UK and abroad. All scams should be reported to Action Fraud so that it can be looked into further.

Website: www.actionfraud.police.uk
Telephone: 0300 123 2040

Get Safe Online – go here to help you stay safe online. There is lots of information that can make you more aware and help you to protect others.
Website: www.getsafeonline.org

Victim Care and Advice Service – Provide support and advice to anyone who has been a victim of crime. Should you find yourself needing some support or someone to talk to then we are the service to come to. You can contact our office Monday-Friday 9am-5pm
Website: www.victimcareandadviceservice.uk
Telephone: 0303 040 1099
Email: [email protected]

If you have any information about a crime contact the police on 101 or CrimeStoppers on 0800 555111.