The sick­est of scams

Hus­band told by fake doc­tor: Your wife’s dy­ing and needs cash for life-sav­ing op... and he agrees be­cause hoaxer uses HER mo­bile num­ber

Daily Mail - - News - By Emine Sin­maz

when Martin Parry re­ceived a call say­ing his wife Del had been hit by a car and needed life- sav­ing surgery he was nat­u­rally dis­traught.

The caller said he was an NHS sur­geon and that Mr Parry needed to hand over £300 be­fore the oper­a­tion could take place.

he sounded gen­uine and what made it more con­vinc­ing was that it ap­peared that he was us­ing Mrs Parry’s mo­bile phone.

But af­ter her hus­band had trans­ferred the money it quickly be­came clear that Mrs Parry had not been in­volved in an ac­ci­dent and that he had been conned.

The cruel fraud­sters had used spe­cial­ist tech­nol­ogy to make it look like they were call­ing from her phone. The prac­tice, known as ‘spoof­ing’, al­lows crim­i­nals to mask their iden­ti­ties and im­per­son­ate peo­ple.

Mr Parry, 47, said: ‘It was blind panic when I heard that my wife was hurt and I fell for it for two rea­sons: it was a call from her phone and the fraud­ster was so con­vinc­ing about her in­juries.

‘I have never been caught out on a scam be­fore. I’m ex-mil­i­tary so I’m pretty clued up with things like this. But I fell it for hook, line and sinker be­cause it in­volved my fam­ily. And if they can get me, they can get a lot of peo­ple, they can get any­one.’

The scam­mer in­tro­duced him­self as Dr Verma, a con­sul­tant at South Ty­ne­side District hos­pi­tal in South Shields, which is ten miles from Mr Parry’s home in whit­ley Bay.

he used med­i­cal terms and re­ferred to 45-year- old Mrs Parry by her nick­name, Del, an ab­bre­vi­a­tion of her mid­dle name, De­lyth.

Mr Parry, who served in the Royal navy for 24 years be­fore re­tir­ing in 2011 as a war­rant of­fi­cer weapons en­gi­neer, said: ‘I got a phone call from my wife’s phone – it came up with her name and num­ber – at 4pm on Mon­day.

‘It was a man with an In­dian ac­cent and he asked, “Are you Martin Parry?” he also knew my date of birth and my ad­dress. he said, “Don’t panic but I have your wife Del here.” I fell for it is be­cause she’s got a very welsh name and Del is her nick­name. I thought, “Bloody hell.” It was all fit­ting into place.

‘he said, “I’m a sur­geon at South Ty­ne­side hos­pi­tal and Del has been in­volved in an ac­ci­dent. She’s been hit by a car and we’ve sta­bilised her but she’s in in­ten­sive care.”

‘he said that she needs to go in for an oper­a­tion as soon as pos­si­ble be­cause she’s got two com­pound frac­tures in her leg. Af­ter that she’d have to have skin grafts from the right leg to the left leg.

‘he was talk­ing through all the pro­ce­dures as if he was a doc­tor and it was bloody good. he said, “Don’t worry about the cost, the NHS will cover ev­ery­thing but you need to trans­fer £300 into the hos- pital bank ac­count to cover the metal and rods that we will be putting in her leg.”’

The con­man ex­plained that it was ‘a pa­per­work ex­er­cise’ and that he would get the money back. Pan­icked, Mr Parry used on­line bank­ing to trans­fer £300 to the fraud­ster’s ac­count and then hur­ried to the hos­pi­tal to be by his teach­ing as­sis­tant wife’s side.

he called rel­a­tives on the way to see if they could pick up the cou­ple’s two chil­dren – Rachel, nine, and Jake, 11 – from school. he spoke to Rhi­an­non williams, Mrs Parry’s sis­ter, who said she was due to meet the cou­ple’s daugh­ter, Rachel, at a dance stu­dio. Mrs williams was in the dance stu­dio and went out­side to go and col­lect Rachel.

Mr Parry, a project man­ager in the safety in­dus­try, said: ‘Rhi­an­non ran out and lo and be­hold there was my wife, sat in the car on the phone to the same man. he had been say­ing the same thing about me. My phone had phoned my wife’s phone and the man said I’d been run over.

‘Rhi­an­non ran up to the car door say­ing, “what are you do­ing here? You should be in hos­pi­tal,” and Del said, “no, Martin’s in hos­pi­tal, he’s been run over.” And that’s when the guy put the phone down.’

Mr Parry re­ported the case to northum­bria Po­lice, who told him it sounded like a data breach. The force passed the case on to Ac­tion Fraud, the UK’s na­tional re­port­ing cen­tre for fraud and cy­ber­crime.

A spokesman for Ac­tion Fraud said: ‘This type of scam, known as “num­ber spoof­ing”, works by fraud­sters cloning the tele­phone num­ber of the or­gan­i­sa­tion or per­son they want to im­per­son­ate and then mak­ing it ap­pear on the vic­tim’s caller ID dis­play when they tele­phone them. The fraud­sters will then gain the per­son’s trust by high­light­ing the num­ber to them, claim­ing that this is proof of their iden­tity, be­fore try­ing to scam them in var­i­ous ways.’

Mr Parry also called ee, his net­work provider, who said there was no ev­i­dence of a data breach from its end. A spokesman said: ‘Spoof call­ing is an in­dus­try wide is­sue and some­thing all op­er­a­tors are work­ing hard to ad­dress.

‘Caller ID spoof­ing hap­pens when a fraud­ster ac­quires a wide range of per­sonal de­tails about the vic­tim – of­ten bought from crim­i­nal or­gan­i­sa­tions or found on­line – and then uses spe­cial­ist on­line tools and ser­vices to hide their iden­tity or im­per­son­ate another per­son when call­ing. They then pose as some­one else and ask for in­for­ma­tion or, as in this case, pay­ment.’

Mr and Mrs Parry, who have been mar­ried for 22 years, have been left won­der­ing how their per­sonal in­for­ma­tion was leaked.

Mr Parry said: ‘I’ve never heard of a scam like this be­fore and I don’t get shaken up very of­ten but this one shook me up. I’m kick­ing my­self now, how can I fall for this?’

‘I fell for it hook, line and sinker’

Martin Parry with wife Del: ‘It was blind panic when I heard she was hurt’

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