Person talking on the phone. (Vista Radio stock photo)
The RCMP is warning of frauds which continue to look and sound more and more legitimate.
Here’s a brief description of a couple of popular scams, and how to avoid becoming a victim.
‘SIN number has been compromised’ scam
This is a ‘robo-dial’ scam where they convince you the police are coming to get you because someone has committed frauds with your social insurance number.
Sometimes the numbers shown on your call display will even resemble local RCMP or government office phone numbers.
The RCMP says this is done with computer technology.
Typically the scam fishes for payment in E-currency, Google Play cards, Apple Cards, or Western Union money transfers.
Campbell River RCMP Const. Maury Tyre is assuring you that:
- the police are not coming to arrest you if you have been the victim of someone scamming your SIN number;
- no government agency takes payment by bit-coin, Apple Cards, or anything other than Canadian currency;
- if the scammers are looking for immediate payment, it’s likely fake. (Tyre says high-pressure fear tactics don’t typically get used by any government agency, if that’s what’s going on, hang up); and
- if you have concerns that what the scammer is telling you is real, call your local RCMP office or Revenue Canada Office directly (do not let the caller connect you.)
Online dating scam
Tyre said some scammers prey on people’s loneliness.
He added that most of them start with online dating sites.
The scammer will spend a good deal of time getting to know the victim and making plans with the victim, but then, right before they are supposed to meet, something unfortunate happens.
For example, he says, their business needs money to finish a project, their credit cards were stolen, or they’ve been the victim of fraud.
the scammer then asks for what seems like a reasonable amount of money to deal with their issue and they’ll be able to pay you back.
“Once you give them money once, it will miraculously not be enough and they’ll need just a little bit more and a little bit more until you have nothing left,” Tyre said.
He offers the following tips:
- Don’t lend money to someone you’ve never met
- Look them up online, do they exist? Very few people exist in this world without an extensive online background. Some scammers are very intricate and can create one, but most don’t take the time.
- Are they asking you to keep the relationship and the money loaning secret (Tyre says this is a sure-fire sign that you’re dealing with fraud)
- Typical unwillingness to talk on the phone, and then when they do, typically there is someone on the other end with a heavy accent. Conversations in writing often seem awkward as well.
Unfortunately if you have already sent money or have been caught in one of these scams, the chance of recovering the funds or getting any sort of justice is extremely limited. Most of the scammers exist in foreign countries where the RCMP and other police agencies have little or no ability to investigate.
The best thing you can do is educate yourself on the common variants of scams and frauds by checking out The Canadian Anti Fraud Centre online and looking at their ‘Fraud and Scam A-Z’ index.
Tyre added that another great tip is to share your experience with someone you trust.
“Unfortunately when people are caught inside a situation they can’t see the warning signs, but when you start to discuss it with someone you trust you can start seeing the flaws in the scam,” Tyre said.
If you have been a victim of a fraud, you’re urged to report it.
The Canadian Anti Fraud Centre Toll is free at 1-888-495-8501. You can also call the Campbell River RCMP at 250-286-6221.