Residents in Cheshire West and Chester should be on their guard against a scam, a councillor advises.
It follows reports scammers are targeting residents with fake ‘foreign emergency’ emails.
Occupiers are urged to be alert to scammers using email to obtain money by posing as someone, often a member of their own family, who is caught up in a fake emergency situation abroad.
The borough council’s trading standards team says it is aware that scammers are emailing residents and pretending to be a member of their family or someone else in their contacts list.
The information is sometimes obtained by hacking their computer.
The most recent trick has involved scammers claiming they are caught up in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma.
The scammers, sometimes posing as a desperate stranger but often as a friend or loved one, tell their potential victim they are in an emergency situation in a foreign country and ask for a sum of money to be sent to them urgently.
Cheshire West and Chester councillor Karen Shore (Lab), cabinet member for environment, said: “We advise Cheshire West residents to be on their guard for this scam. It’s surprisingly easy for a scam artist to impersonate someone you care for.
“Your instinct is to help your relative or friend and the scammers hope your worry and concern will outweigh any scepticism.
“The scam is perhaps easier to spot if the email is from someone you don’t know. Please follow the advice of our trading standards officers and don’t get caught out.”
Trading standards top tips to avoid being taken advantage of by the scam are:
Resist the urge to act immediately no matter how dramatic the story is.
Don’t send money to a stranger
Verify the person’s identity by asking questions that a stranger couldn’t possibly answer.
Call a phone number for your family member or friend that you know to be genuine.
Check the story out with someone else in your family or circle of friends, even if you’ve been told to keep it a secret.
Don’t wire money or send a cheque or money order by overnight delivery or courier.
Further help and advice about all consumer matters is on hand from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 08454 040506.