PEOPLE are being plagued by a new internet scam that accuses people of viewing vile images online.
Several people have contacted the Echo after falling foul of the scam that claims they were viewing indecent images of children.
The scammers then try to make people pay a fine or risk being targeted by the police.
Pensioners Wendy and John Faulkner from Weymouth say that they were targeted by the scam while they were reading a news article online on their computer.
They said that indecent images of children appeared on the computer screen with a message that claimed they pay a hefty fine or face legal action for looking at the shocking online material.
Mrs Faulkner, 64, said: “I was only reading a news story online when my computer froze and these really alarming images appeared.
“I could see that they were disturbing images of children and I quickly looked away – it was really horrible.
“Then a message popped up saying we had to pay a £100 fee in the next two to seven days or risk a further £8,000 fine.
“The scam said if we didn’t pay the money we could face legal action and up to 10 years in prison for viewing indecent images of children online.”
She added: “The message looked so official and had so much legal terminology anyone could understand why someone would panic and fall for the scam.”
The distraught couple, who live on Melcombe Avenue, Weymouth, spoke of how they finally managed to clear the screen and quickly contacted Dorset Police.
Mrs Faulkner, a retired health visitor, said: “It makes me most angry and upset to think of these poor children.
“When I contacted Action Fraud they told me that people had been tricked and paid the ‘fine’.”
The grandparents are urging other Dorset residents not to get caught out.
Mrs Faulkner added: “We are quite switched on but there are other people out there who might panic in that situation.”
Another victim, who did not want to be named, said: “I was reading an article online when the screen went white and then this official-looking police page popped up and said I had been caught viewing indecent images online.
“It said I would have to pay a fine immediately or face a much bigger fine later on.
“It was frightening but after reading it through a couple of times I realised it had to be a scam.
“I contacted the police immediately and they are looking into it.”
Children's charity warn over scam
PETER Bradley, a spokesman for children’s charity Kidscape, said victims should not click on or share the images or pay the fine.
He said: “This scam has been circulating in Dorset recently.
“If it does happen to you, try and take a screen shot of the images and take it to a police station.”
“Children have been browsing the internet when the indecent images of minors have appeared on the screen, which would be very traumatising.”
“Parents should warn their children about this in case it happens.”
Internet users need to be on guard
DORSET County Council’s trading standards service manager Ivan Hancock said: “This is yet another illustration of the huge and unwelcome variety of ways in which internet scams seek to fraudulently gain money or personal data from consumers.
“All internet users need to be permanently on their guard against any unsolicited requests for money or personal details.
“The best first point of contact for consumers wishing to enquire about or report this sort of internet scam is Action Fraud, using their helpline or website.”
Action Fraud can be contacted on 0300 123 20 40 or on actionfraud.police.uk