Sunday, November 16, 2008

Cyber crime victim launches net fraud website - - 14 Nov 08

A victim of cyber crime who was conned out of £14,000 in an internet scam launched a website today to warn others of the dangers of online fraud.

Caroline Coats, 55, from Montpellier, in Cheltenham, lost £14,000 of her savings to cyber gangs in the Ukraine.

But she found herself arrested and locked up in police custody for 12 hours after police discovered the fraud.

She was released without charge after she became embroiled in the scam as she searched for work in December last year.

Her CV was posted on a UK recruitment website and a German company called GMI Autos contacted her.

A fluent German speaker, Mrs Coats accepted a position as Senior Payments Product Manager and the company transferred money into her account for her to move across to them from her own savings.

In fact the company was a front for Ukrainian conmen.

Police arrested Mrs Coats in Birmingham after she tried to withdraw money from her account.

"I was quite literate, but ignorant to the threat," she said.

"I thought 'how could you Caroline?', my head was in the sand about cyber fraud, but I know now that it can devastate lives.

"After the police discovered I was actually the victim I spoke to them about what would happen next.

"But they said that they would not try to catch the people responsible, who were somewhere in Eastern Europe, because they did not deal with E-crime. They were not trained to do it and there was a massive lack of resources."

Mrs Coats has over the past year created a website giving information about cyber crime in a bid to stop other innocent people from falling prey.

Mrs Coats said she decided to set up her website to warn others of cyber fraud after she learnt there was no dedicated police unit targeting internet crime outside of London.

The free to access site - - goes live tomorrow and provides news, advice and research on threats to computer users.

"It all prompted me to this public service website for the consumer, at home on the internet, like I was.

"Someone who is not very techy and does not want all the jargon but wants to know what can be done to protect themselves.

"Just a few pointers in the right direction can make such a difference."

By Aleisha Scott

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