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Calls for action on virtual number scams

Scam calls have caused devastation and heartbreak over a number of years for Orkney residents.

Calls from the Orkney Scam Awareness Group (OSAG) for Ofcom to act to prevent instances of malicious calls involving geographic virtual numbers has been backed by Orkney MSP Liam McArthur.

The practice involves fraudsters securing local area code numbers that allows them to disguise their caller-ID so they can more easily target vulnerable people living in rural communities.

OSAG has written to Ofcom to highlight the high occurrence of these malicious calls in Orkney and to call for access to geographic virtual numbers to be restricted.

Mr McArthur had added his support, and is pressing for Ofcom to review and tighten the process for granting geographic virtual numbers so that it isn’t abused for the purposes of criminal behaviour.

Mr McArthur said: “We know that fraudsters are finding new and more sophisticated ways to carry out illegal activity, such as disguising their calls to make it seem like they’re calling from a local and trusted number.

“It’s easy to see how anyone could fall victim to this type of scam, but particularly in a small community such as Orkney where people are more likely to trust who they assume is someone based locally. 

“OSAG are correct to call into question the need for anyone based outside an area to need a geographic virtual number in the first place.

“It is clearly open to widespread abuse unless the process for obtaining the number is rigorous and tightly monitored to make it impossible for criminals to take advantage of it.

“I’ve sadly seen too many instances of scams taking place across Orkney, and the heartache and devastation that it has on the individuals and families affected.

“OSAG is already doing essential work to raise awareness of the problem and provide support to those who may be at heightened risk of being targeted.

“I’m grateful to them for taking action on this particularly malicious scam and will be working with them and Ofcom to establish how we can stamp it out for good.”

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