AN ORKNEY farmer has fallen for an elaborate telephone scam which saw his bank account stripped of a five-figure sum. While wishing to remain anonymous, the NFU Scotland member has now shared his story in the hope that others will not fall victim to similar criminal activity.

As fraudulent telephone scams continue to target the farming community, the message from NFUS remains clear – remain vigilant and never give out your bank details over the phone or online.

Orkney NFUS secretary Kenny Slater, based in Kirkwall, said: “We have had two members call this week advising us that they have been subject to scam phone calls. The most serious was from a member who was scammed out of a five-figure sum of money on March 4.

“The call purported to come from the member’s bank. The most worrying aspect of this incident was that the scammer had manipulated the caller ID displaying on the receiving phone to make it look like the call was coming from the bank.

“The scammer called seeking confirmation from our member that a large payment being made electronically to HMRC was genuine. It obviously wasn't a genuine payment and the fraudster then offered to help stop the payment going through. The scammer went on to use the information he had gleaned during the call to move significant funds out of our member’s account," reported Mr Slater.

“Although he doesn't want to be identified, the member is keen to share his terrible experience; making others aware of the types of calls being made to hopefully prevent others becoming victim to ever more sophisticated scams.”

The fear is that, as this is such a busy time of year on farm with calving, lambing and spring work, that farmers could be easily caught out by alarming calls from people claiming to represent their bank – if this is happening in one region of the country, it is likely only a matter of time before other areas are targeted.

NFUS reminded members that their banks will never phone or email to ask for online password information or any password using an online banking token or card and reader. They will never ask a customer to make a payment over the phone by using their online account.

Anyone receiving a call claiming to be from their bank suggesting that the customer call them back on the bank number, should ensure to use a different phone as the caller may still be on the line, waiting to intercept that call.

The advice from Police Scotland is:

• Don’t give out any personal information unless you are the one who made the call and you are certain of the identity of the person you are speaking to;

• Don’t give out your credit card or bank card details to strangers on the telephone;

• NEVER tell somebody your bank PIN number, even if they claim to be the bank or police. If the caller is genuine, they will never ask for this information;

• Don’t give out information which may infer that you live alone, are older or vulnerable;

• Never send money to anyone who claims to have a prize for you;

• If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.