Lewis teacher “shaken” by late-night phone scammer posing as a police officer

Stephen Campbell received the call late on Wednesday night while at home.

A Lewis teacher has been left “shaken” after receiving a late-night call at home from a phone scammer posing as a police officer from Stornoway.

Stephen Campbell was at home in Laxdale when he received the call on Wednesday night at 11.25 pm.

The scammer claimed to be a PC Alan MacDonald and told Stephen that he had seen him shopping without wearing a facemask.

The man then proceeded to ask Stephen for a list of shops he had visited in the past seven days so he could check his whereabouts on CCTV cameras.

“My wife and I were just watching the telly and then the phone rang – it was the house phone and usually that never rings unless we are expecting a doctor’s appointment or something like that,” Stephen told the Free Press.

“As soon as I answered the phone the man said ‘I’m PC Alan Macdonald and I have heard reports that you’ve been in shops’ but he never once questioned who had answered the phone, he wasn’t looking for anyone in particular and that’s what got the alarming bells ringing straight away.

“He told me that I had been in shops – plural – and that he wanted a list of them, so I knew straight away that this wasn’t right as I had only been in one shop lately and had worn a mask.

Stephen told the Free Press that he immediately questioned the timing of the call, however, the scammer said that he had been calling people all day and had just got round to phoning him.

“I was wondering why on earth he would be phoning so late and why he needed to deal with this right now.

“I asked him ‘who is your line manager’ as I wasn’t happy and I wanted to speak to someone else.

“He wasn’t sure, the first thing he said was ‘I don’t know’, and then a voice in the background said ‘Robert’.

“He then said to me ‘oh, my line manager is Robert.'”

After asking to speak to the line manager, the scammer put Stephen on hold before hanging up. However, he then phoned Stephen back and persisted in asking for a list of the shops he had visited before threatening to pay him a visit at home.

“He kept going on about wanting this list and then went on to say ‘that’s fine, we’ll come round in the morning to the house for a chat.’

“I was perfectly okay with that, but he wasn’t and said you can just give me the information. He then said you can call the Stornoway station, but when I told him I would do that he wasn’t happy with that either.”

After going round in circles for a while the call ended and Stephen called 101 to report the incident to the police.

“What really struck me was that it didn’t sound like young lads having a prank because at no point did they give up and start laughing or sniggering – I thought they were really serious about trying to get somewhere with it,” said Stephen.

“It would have had to go further than me giving a list of shops, I can’t see in of itself what that would have done – I don’t know where else it would have gone after that.

“The only thing I could think was that they would try and follow it up and ask me to pay a fine.

He added: “I was a little bit shaken and unsure about why they were phoning me. Nobody likes the thought of someone showing up to their house or any sort of threat.

“The next morning I did wonder if he was going to come at 8.15 as he said he would but I didn’t hear anything else.”

The Free Press contacted Police Scotland for a comment concerning the call.

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: “We received a report around 3 pm on Thursday, 16 July 2020, of a scam call where a person claimed to be a police officer and accused the person of not wearing a face mask.

“Officers are aware that other people in Stornoway have received similar calls and are urging anyone else who has received one to make them aware by contacting 101.

“The calls are not genuine and we are advising people not to give out any information and report the calls to police. “Enquiries into the calls are ongoing.”