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Crime psychologist David Canter falls for bank con and loses £18,000

This article in the Times warns us to be aware. It happens even to the experts:

One of the country’s foremost criminal psychologists had £18,000 taken from his bank accounts after he was tricked by a gang of fraudsters.

David Canter is the director of the International Research Centre for Investigative Psychology, but even his recent study of email scams was not enough to help him spot the sophisticated fraud before it was too late.

Professor Canter, 73, who is best known for helping police to catch John Duffy, a serial killer, in the 1990s, said that he wanted to highlight his “idiotic mistake” to stop others falling for it.

The gang got into his BT email account before Easter but he found out only when friends told him that they had received an email claiming that he was stranded in Turkey without money. He changed his passwords but the gang had forwarded all emails to a new account. Despite calling BT for help, it took two weeks to establish what had happened.

Shortly after resolving the problem, Professor Canter received a call on his landline from a “polite woman” claiming to be from BT.

The woman, who had an Indian accent, said that his IP address had been compromised. She took him through “checks” asking him to corroborate “unique” numbers on his computer. He realised later that all computers of a certain make have them.

He said: “I was sceptical but she gave me instructions that appeared to check out. I know a little about computers but not enough to know that what she was showing was spurious. She had a sense of urgency that made me feel I had to do something.”

The woman then transferred Professor Canter to a man who helped him to download “protective” software.

“They told me I need to block access from the IP address to my bank accounts. They gained access to my computer and every time my bank accounts appeared the screen went blank.

“They said: ‘Don’t panic, it’s part of the process’. They were very convincing. The whole process took several hours and I was not thinking too much about it. I even spent time talking with the man about how he got a degree in computer science in London.

“Eventually, my suspicions mounted. I put the phone down and spoke to a friend in IT who said, ‘You’ve been had’.”

The gang targeted Professor Canter on a bank holiday when it was harder to contact his banks. He eventually got through but each reacted differently.

“Lloyds was very helpful. If a transaction looks suspicious, they put a 24-hour block on it so they were able to cancel the transfer and I quickly got £2,500 back. NatWest was difficult to get in touch with but when I explained how cautious I had been, they refunded me. I was so grateful because I know many banks don’t in this situation.

“Santander stopped one transfer because it looked suspicious but didn’t stop the other. It took six weeks to get my money back. They said I was negligent. I sent letters to their managing director and CEO about how weak their systems were compared to others.”

Professor Canter reported the crime but the police gave him a crime number and told him to use the Action Fraud website. Last year The Times reported that Action Fraud was so overwhelmed that cases were assessed by an algorithm and fewer than 1 in 100 was passed to the police. Professor Canter said: “They would not even take the account details the fraudsters were using. I just got a letter back saying there were no leads.”

Peter Glock
Over 30 years of designing, building and managing telecoms and IT services. Primarily working with large enterprise and professional services businesses in Asia, North America, continental Europe and the UK. Information security professional, secret physics nerd.

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