Jack Quann
Jack Quann

16.08 3 Jun 2021


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There has been an uptake in scam calls and e-mails recently, especially on the back of the HSE cyber attack.

While the HSE has warned there is still a risk patient data will be published on the dark web.

However 96% of the almost 5,000 servers used by the HSE have been screened and protected.

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Conor Pope is a consumer journalist with the Irish Times.

He told Lunchtime Live he received three scam calls himself last Friday - but he was happy to take them.

"I was delighted in a way, because I was listening to it and it was just so stupid.

"It was this plummy British accent telling me that my PPS number had revealed that I was involved in drug trafficking and money laundering - and that 'law enforcement' were on the way to arrest me.

"They don't give you a heads up, they don't say 'the police are coming'.

"And apart from anything else, it's Ireland - so we don't call them 'law enforcement', they're Guards.

"So a lot of the time they're not as bright as they might think they are.

"But the thing is if they hit 500,000 numbers, or if they send out a million spam e-mails, all they really need to make money is one, two or three people to be duped.

"They all have the same things: they always put real pressure on you, so they'd say 'You need to act now'.

"The vast majority of times these guys are clowns, they're just stupid and they're just trying to exploit vulnerable people - and I think that's what's most troubling about it".

'Handing over control'

Conor said even though the scammers may have nothing to do with the cyber attack, they will still try to exploit the situation.

"It's a huge, huge problem and the problem is only going to get worse.

"But I think what's even more sinister is the criminals are getting way more astute, and much better at exploiting particular situations."

He said, as an example, there were several Brexit-related text scams about delivery charges around the time Britain left the EU.

"If you do the wrong things, and it's very simple to do the wrong things here, particularly if you're not really paying too much attention.

"If you do the wrong things, you effectively hand over control of your device to the criminals.

"And we live our lives on our phones now: we have all of our communications on the phone, we have our banking details, we have contactless payments and all the rest.

"Every step of the way, the criminals are constantly watching what's happening in our world.

"So the criminals that are executing these scams, they will be very aware of the ransomware attack on the HSE.

"Now they have absolutely nothing to do with the ransomware attack on the HSE, but what they will be doing is they will be exploiting the fear that people have that their data has been compromised."

Conor Pope: I was delighted to get a PPS scam call

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

    

Main image: Composite image shows Conor Pope outside Dublin's National Concert Hall in 2016 and a person holding a smartphone. Picture by: Brian McEvoy/Pexels from Pixabay

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