Impersonating a Police Officer UK Phone Scam

This one initially caught me off guard as I was co-incidentally expecting a call back from the Metropolitan Police on an unrelated matter..

I had a call this morning from someone identifying themselves as 'Mark Dixon' who claimed to be from the Met Police. As all our calls are recorded on our phone system I'll attach the call here so you can judge for yourself .. the statement that he is from the 'Met Police' is very clear indeed so no doubt about what is claimed. This tactic works very well as we all naturally want to co-operate with the police and help prevent crime and abuse of all sorts. 'Mr Dixon' does do a very good job of sounding like a police officer - so full marks for tone and gravitas of voice.

NB: If you want to listen to the call then come back to the commentry here scroll to the bottom & hit play then come back to read on..

An annual alleged scam seems to be for a certain company who may or may not go by the name of 'blue line publishing' or 'thin blue line publishing' to call up pretending to be from the UK Police. They ask for business community support to support their efforts to help educate children about the dangers of the internet and other risks (grooming etc.). Specifically they state that they are producing a journal to be distributed to schools to address and highlight some of these issues and look for responsible community minded busiesses to help sponsor and enable this effort.

Here at Onega as part of our IT support work we go to great efforts to help keep computer systems safe from cyber attacks and reduce risks with various measures of Antivirus, secure firewalls etc.  Thus we'd be happy to consider helping the police with any initiatives to keep the community safe and raise awareness wherever possible. In this case though the caller is not calling from the police, but will state this, and heavily imply this. It is a great way to get past a swichboard for example... ie if the Police call and talk to reception asking for a particular member of staff, no one will refuse to connect the call (again due to our natural desire to help stay on the right side of the law).

The chap calling does not in fact work for the police, and if asked or questioned furter will back track to 'we're working for the police' then 'we're working with the police' then 'in the interests of policing' and may well we suspect end up with 'we're wanted by the police'! (or should do!) .. the point is that most people don't think to question the authenticity of the caller if they claim up front to be calling from the Met Police (or any UK police force), as we alll also know that 'impersonating a police officer' is a crime that typically carries a six month prison sentence in the UK. Fraud can carry much more.

The alleged fraud pans out that if you choose to support their journal then you buy a certain amount of display advertising space in the journal or add a paid message of support as a responsible and upstanding company. So the journal may or may not be produced and printed in volumes they claim, and may or may not be distributed to schools. We're pretty sure that the real Police did not commission or condone this, and most of your money (if not all) goes to pertetuate the scam and to line the pockets of the scammers.

We've reported this previously to the real police and understand that there is an ongoing investigation details of which are obviously confidential as it may lead to a court case and prison time for the man who is or claims to be Mark Dixon and his colleagues.

Call received 10th April 2017 at 11:34am - 1:45 duration in this case. Have a listen to the recording and be the jury - do you agree that it is clear that the caller claims to be from the Police?  The call comes from a withheld number so it makes it harder to trace - though in fact the UK telecom logs allow for a full trace behind the scenes so there is no hiding here. They also don't check the TPS register before calling, though that's a fairly minor crime compared to impersonating a police officer or basic fraud and deception. As an additional kick to the real UK Met Police, they also chose the day of heroic policeman PC Keith Palmer's funeral for PC K who was killed in last month's Westminster attack, takes place in London's Southwark Cathedral.

Call from the real police don't have withheld phone numbers, and officers will be able to indentify themselves to you. The police do have many civilian staff but they will also be clear about their title and authority. .. So if you get one of these calls please let us (and the police) know. This is about the 4th year we've had calls on this and we're always a bit sad it continues as it means that others are spending money that goes nowhere. In retrospect on the call I should have gone along with it to ask for details and where should I send my money etc. to capture their contact details but at the time I was not in the mood for time wasting so made short shrift of the call.

Have a listen:



What To Do If You Lose Your Laptop Computer - Onega Style

One of our clients recently had the misfortune to become separated from and lose his laptop computer while on a business trip to Sweden. This is the story of what happened and how we were able to help later reunite him with his laptop.

Anyone who travels on business will be aware that current rules and procedures for airport security require that, if you are travelling with a laptop computer in your hand luggage, then you must take it out of the bag and run it separately through the x-ray machine at the security station.

On this occasion Onega's client, Tim (who was happy for us to share this story), was on his way back to the UK from a business trip to Sweden and running close for time to get on the plane. After having gone through the bag check and x-ray station, in the rush to get on the plane, he was distracted and forgot to pick up the laptop after it had gone through the scan.

It was only the morning after returning home from the evening flight back that he realised the computer was missing and what had happened. Airport lost property was contacted with a description and identification details of the laptop, but unfortunately nothing had been handed into lost property. A report was left of the loss of the computer with the airport authorities and for our client's insurance purposes. From a practical perspective Onega then proceeded to procure a replacement laptop for our client the same day and configure for email, restore the files from most recent backup and generally get our client back to operation quickly and efficiently.

Normally this would be the end of the tale and you'd kick yourself for forgetting the laptop (though it's easily done and we're all human), but in this case the tale then continued a few days later...

Onega like to pro-actively manage our client's systems, and we have some software and systems that help us make sure that machines are in good health, up to date with security patches and generally happy. While monitoring the management system, we noticed that the lost laptop had done an electronic check-in, so must be alive somewhere, just not with our client. So we knew the machine was being used and now had a clue as to where it was.

Following the clues here our management system logs showed us the Internet IP address that the computer had registered on, and we could in turn find out which Swedish ISP ran this particular network.

Next step was to get in contact with the Swedish Airport Police. We must say that they were incredibly helpful. We filled them in on what we'd found and they were able to contact the ISP to find the subscriber details related to the IP address where the laptop had checked in from.

The next day, armed with this information and after we confirmed that the computer was still online from the same address, the police visited the house. Unfortunately there was no one in; so they broke the door down and entered the property, recovered the laptop, and left a note on the door asking the householder to get in touch.

The person who had the laptop claimed to have bought it from someone in a park, so was let go with a warning, a note on record, minus the laptop of course and with the task of replacing their front door.

The evidence here was later used to support (alongside other evidence) a successful prosecution of a member of the airport security scanning station staff; who it turned out had a sideline in taking and selling items that were left behind on the scan station when they really should have been handed into the airport lost property office.

Our client picked his laptop up a few weeks later when he returned again through the airport on business, and the laptop has now become a 'good spare' which is always a useful thing to have.

So a good result all round (unless you were the unwitting buyer of the laptop or the light fingered security officer of course!). Here at Onega we rather enjoyed working with the Swedish Airport Police as well as the happy outcome for our client in getting his computer back.

We can't promise that we'll be able to reunite every owner with their lost laptop, but we do promise to do our best for our clients to continue to provide excellence in IT support delivery that 'goes one step beyond' as Onega's normal standard.