A GREENOCK man has told how he was targeted by a fake call centre in India which pretended to be calling from a local number.

Calls are being churned out to numbers in Inverclyde, claiming to be from BT’s security team.

The criminals tell local residents that their internet access is about to be cut off because their account has been hacked.

Their scam uses Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology to make it look like the calls are coming from a local number.

They buy a phone number for any town or city and divert it to their own number, meaning consumers may think they are dealing with a local company when the business is in fact many thousands of miles away.

Hugh McMillan, 63, from Greenock, said: “I had a call on the landline and the caller ID said it was an 01475 number.

"It was an automated message which said that my internet would be shut down in 24 hours because my account had been hacked.

“The message said to push button 1, so I did.

"I was put through to a man with an Indian accent.

"There was a lot of background noise and it sounded like he was in a call centre.

"He said he was security from BT.

"I said I was with Sky and he said that they covered Sky, Virgin and BT as well.

“He then asked me to turn on my laptop and took me through a procedure which brought up an internet protocol, or IP address which he claimed belonged to a hacker in California.

“I asked him if he was really from BT and he got a wee bit ratty to say the least!

“He told me to call BT on 0203 290 0836.

"He said this was BT’s number and that I should give them the engineer ID BT0075.

"I was really suspicious by now and my wife said, ‘Hang up'.”

The council is becoming increasingly concerned at the number of scams being encountered by people in the district on a daily basis.

A spokesperson said: “In November and December last year Indian police raided 26 call centres in Delhi and Noida and arrested over 176 people because of their alleged involvement in scams.

“This is a huge, professional, well-organised operation and clearly the scammers are back in business despite last year’s arrests.

"The London number that Hugh was given has been used for scams before.

“We’ve had a number of calls about people claiming to be from BT.

“The scammers try to get access to your computer so that they can download your personal or bank details or install spyware to see which keys are pushed on a computer and learn passwords, or install ransomware to stop a person from being able to access their computer or personal files until a ‘ransom’ is paid."

The council has issued security advice to local citizens to help them avoid the traps.

They said: “Never call a number you are given, never download an unexpected attachment and never click on a link in a suspicious email.

"If you need to call your bank there is usually a number on the bank of your credit or debit card.

"Use this.”