An investigation has identified two of the people behind the scamming of British customers of the telecom giant TalkTalk.
The hacking of the company recently triggered a wave of thefts in which scammers used the hacked data to impersonate TalkTalk staff. They then conned British victims out of thousands of pounds. The fraudsters pretended to be calling from TalkTalk customer support.
One victim, Tamsin Collison, said: “The guy was completely helpful. He said, ‘We’ve found the problem (with your computer), we’re going to send someone tomorrow to clean it up. But meantime you’re due a £200 refund for your trouble. In fact, they had already hacked Ms Collison’s computer. So when she logged into her bank to get the refund, they tricked her into thinking they’d overpaid her, then tricked her into refunding them the “overpayment”.
“He gave a very convincing performance of someone who’d never made a mistake before, who was going to be fired and whose granny would be thrown into the street,” said Ms Collison. “He then put me on hold, then came back and said I have a colleague in a branch in Bangkok and if you can take the money out and give it to him, it won’t be traced back to me.”
By this time the scammers had spent days convincing Ms Collison they were legit, and so she transferred £5,000 to a man in Bangkok she’d never met – money that she was convinced did not belong to her anyway.
The phone number Ms Collison was given belongs to Shoaib Khan, 22, who lives in Calcutta. He told Tamsin to send the cash to a man called Sohail Hussain in Thailand. Mr Khan has a Facebook friend named Sohail Hussain, who jetted off to Bangkok a few days before the money arrived.
“Part of me is mortified that I was scammed,” said Ms Collison. “It’s bad enough and now I look at him, he’s half my age, utterly unrepentant. It’s the human cost they do not consider. They just think we’re money boxes.”
The scammers are still at large, and Ms Collison never got her money back.