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Island RCMP remind people to ‘know the signs’ of common frauds and scams

Police detail cases in which victims have been scammed out of thousands of dollars
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Nanaimo RCMP are warning of scams that have plagued victims in this city and across Canada. (Stock photo)

Grandson scams, refund scams, Canada Revenue Agency scams and gift card scams are among the hundreds of scams being carried out every day locally and nationally.

According to a Nanaimo RCMP press release, as of Dec. 31, more than 90,000 frauds with losses totalling $530 million had been reported to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre. Statistically, only five per cent of all frauds are ever reported.

“We all must remain vigilant when it comes to protecting our hard-earned money. Know the signs and know what to look for so you don’t fall prey,” said reserve Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesperson.

A Nanaimo senior recently lost $8,000 to the grandson scam, which has been around for years and is still one of the more effective scams because it tugs at the victim’s heartstrings.

In this scam, the fraudster claims to be a grandson, family member or even a law enforcement officer calling on behalf of the loved one. The caller claims they were involved in a car accident, have been arrested, became sick, or were injured, etc., and plead for money to pay their bail, legal fees or hospital bills. They might also claim they can’t give more details due to a ban on court proceedings or they’re too embarrassed. The victim is then told to go to their bank and withdraw money, and in most cases, the victim is told to wire or send money via courier services. Others have been directed to pay by cryptocurrency.

Several people in Nanaimo have also recently lost between $2,000 to $15,000 to the gift card scam, noted RCMP. In this scam, the victim is told their credit card has been compromised or they owe back taxes. The caller claims to work for a bank or the Canadian Revenue Agency and orders the victim to pay or settle their tax bill by purchasing a number of gift cards. The victim is told where to purchase the cards and then call the culprit back and provide the 10-digit code on the back of each card.

The refund scam involves the victim receiving a text message or e-mail claiming they are entitled to a GST or gas rebate and are then directed to respond to a text with certain letters.

This scam method attempts to harvest personal information or credit card data. In one recent case, a victim received a text indicating there was a pricing issue with a recent delivery. To receive the refund, they were told to respond by texing ‘yes,’ which activated a link that was then sent to them. The victim opened the link, which allowed the fraudster to access the victim’s banking app and withdraw just under $2,000 from their account. The victim didn’t realize the money was gone until they tried to send an e-transfer days later. The fraudster even changed the name on the victim’s banking account.

Scams are carried out every day and anyone who provided personal information and lost money is asked to call the Nanaimo RCMP detachment non-emergency line at 250-754-2345.

People can also learn more about and report online fraud to the the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by calling 1-888-495-8501 or visiting http://rb.gy/pqyxqv.

READ ALSO: Nanaimo senior takes cab rides around city buying $15,000 worth of gift cards for scammer



chris.bush@nanaimobulletin.com

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