Ocado email scam robbed family of £14,000

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A fraudulent email was sent to thousands of people in October, impersonating online food retailer Ocado.

The scammers sent the convincing email to both customers and non-customers of the site, which left the call centre swamped with calls by confused people targeted.

It is believed that the emails related customer orders with malicious software, attaching a fake receipt to the body which downloaded malware onto the computer if clicked.

One family from Harrow saw £14,000 cleared from their family business account after falling victim to the con.

Jackie Farmer called Ocado and was told there were 40 people ahead of her in the telephone queue. Once she got through to the customer service team the agent told her not to open the attachment. On telling them she already had the team member said there was nothing to worry about.

The 52-year-old said her husband had forwarded her the email believing it to be a genuine order on the site. Later in the day she noticed the cash had been taken from the account and only when a computer engineer identified the Ocado email was it that she realised.

Mrs Farmer was angry at Ocado for not notifying people of the problem on its site as soon as they realised what the scammers were doing, as well as the badly-trained customer service agent’s advice.

The theft could have been avoided if the agent had told her the computer was likely to have a virus, which would have ensured Mrs Farmer did not use her online banking.

Ocado offered an apology with £50 as a goodwill gesture, but Mrs Farmer’s costs were estimated at £2000 including the cost of phone calls and computer engineers.

Computer security expert Graham Cluley said: “Normally the malware will lurk on the victim’s computer, waiting for them to log into their online bank account and grab the details at that point.”

A spokesperson for Ocado said: “We advise customers to be on guard for scams of this kind and be careful about opening attachments.

“We also issued a warning on our website once the incident was made known to us.

“We have offered Ms Farmer a goodwill gesture as we regret that in this instance, the explanation of the fraudulent email given by our call centre did not live up to the high standards we set ourselves.

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