‘Hi Jordan. It’s dad.’ Those were the first words I uttered to my closest friend a few years back after calling his mobile phone.
For 30 seconds, he believed I was his dear papa.
The reason? Although I had telephoned him from my own mobile, I’d ‘spoofed’ his home landline number so that the words ‘Dad’ showed up as the caller on his screen.
Appeal: The police need all the firepower they can get to put heartless spoofing fraudsters behind bars
Before you start worrying that I’m Money Mail Editor by day and crook by night, rest assured this was just an experiment.
You see, I had been invited by Barclays to its London HQ to see just how simple it can be to ‘spoof’ a phone number.
All Barclays had to do was find readily-available software online and type in the number I wanted to ‘spoof’ — Jordan’s dad — and hey presto.
Both Jordan and I were a little shocked to say the least. He couldn’t understand how I’d managed to make a call to his mobile seem like it was from his dad.
And I walked out of London’s Canary Wharf terrified at just how easy it is for fraudsters to impersonate a bank, the police, the taxman, your telecoms provider or, in fact, anyone they like.
These spoofing criminals are often part of organised crime groups, with slick scripts to read from and a bucket full of gumption.
The police need all the firepower they can get to put these heartless crooks behind bars
When you put all that together — the technology, script, gumption, teamwork — no wonder it’s so hard for victims of cruel impersonation scams to differentiate between a scammer and real bank staff.
Credit where it’s due — an investigation led by the Metropolitan Police into one of the major number spoofing websites last week shone a light on this terrible blight on society.
They’ve shut down one of the biggest spoofing websites and made arrests public.
It’s the first sign to crooks that the net may finally be closing in.
That’s why today we ask Money Mail readers to help the Met with its inquiries. The police need all the firepower they can get to put these heartless crooks behind bars.
Write to us at Money Mail and we’ll pass your information to the authorities in confidence. Or better still, you can go direct to Action Fraud and report, blow-by-blow, what happened to you.
If you’re still out of pocket from a fraud, there’s no excuse to delay — you may even find it helps get your money back — even if you fell victim to a ‘spoofing’ crook long ago, please get in touch with the police.
Unfortunately, as the Met told us this week, shutting down spoofing websites is like whack-a-mole; as soon as they bust one, another springs up.
So your help is vital to send these despicable con artists a clear message: committing financial fraud means time inside.
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Private parking firms drive us round the bend with their habit of dishing out fines like confetti. And the plague just continues to spread.
A huge 30,000 parking charges a day were sent to beleaguered motorists in the past year.
Sure, we need restrictions to stop parking becoming a free-for-all where nobody can park near their home or the rail station.
But on the flip-side, the rules and regulations must not punish drivers unfairly or make people fear driving into town because it’s so hard to avoid a fine.
In the past five years, Mrs B and I have received three parking fines. We appealed all three and all three were quashed.
In one example, we parked in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex, on the way home from a day in nearby Holland-on-Sea.
I entered the registration plate number into the machine and put the ticket in the windscreen — only later I received a charge through the post.
I’d long since thrown away the ticket. I still had to pay the £60 fine even though I’d paid by card, so had proof of the transaction.
I appealed through POPLA — an independent appeals service — with the proof and, like magic, it was written off. It’s high time for a crackdown on the long-winded parking fines appeals process.
Motorists who play by the rules have had enough of these locusts.