PEOPLE in Sussex have been conned out of tens of thousands of pounds by software scammers.

Across Sussex as a whole, 122 people reported fraud attempts, with women over 75 accounting for many of those who were targeted.

And 46 victims suffered a financial loss, with the combined total amounting to £233,760 – or an average of just over £5,000.

The figures were collated by Sussex Police for the period from Friday 1 January to Thursday 12 August.

The force said: “Police are warning residents to be vigilant after a rise in cases of computer software service fraud in Sussex, especially among vulnerable victims.

“Common scenarios also include callers pretending to be from reputable organisations.

“One victim aged 82, received a call from someone claiming to be from BT Engineering who said her internet connection was no longer secure and needed fixing.

“As she had been experiencing issues with her internet connection, she believed this was a genuine call.

“The caller then stated that they needed to access her computer remotely and began downloading some software on to the device.

“The fraudster stated that he could see that the ‘hackers’ had tried to access her online banking and that he could prevent this as he had already caught several of these criminals in the past.

“After saying that he had downloaded some security software to her device, the victim became suspicious and noticed that £14,000 had been illegally withdrawn from her account.

“Local officers have responded to the report mentioned here and provided support to the victim.

“To protect yourself or someone you know from becoming a victim of fraud, consider the following key tips

  • If you receive a call like this hang up. Take five and verify the call via a trusted method, not the numbers given in the call.
  • Never allow anyone to remotely access your computer
  • Do not download software on the request of a phone caller
  • A genuine service provider will never call you out of the blue regarding issues with your computer or broadband
  • Microsoft will not request your banking information or personal details to validate Windows software on your devices

“Please pass this advice on to your loved ones, particularly those who are elderly or vulnerable.

“If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please contact Sussex Police on 101 or visit the website.

“Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.”