Scammers have been reportedly impersonating higher ups at businesses and asking for money from employees.

RCMP say two hotels in Nanaimo were scammed for almost $1700 in early June. They both thought they were responding to a legitimate request from their regional office.

The first incident involved a man named ‘John Davis’ who said he was having difficulty getting a package delivered to the hotel. He said the package contained the hotel’s business license and items for an upcoming health inspection.

Davis instructed the employee on the other line to send money via FedEx so the parcel could be delivered. He put pressure on the person receiving the call by saying that if it wasn’t delivered within 24 hours, the hotel could be shut down. 

The employee assumed he would be reimbursed and used almost $1000 of his own money to cover the expense. He was then instructed to deposit the money in a nearby ATM that deals only in bitcoin. After the money was deposited, the employee spoke with the real head office and confirmed it was a scam.

The second incident was almost identical to the first, though the employee only deposited $500.

“It’s not hard to see why people fall for these types of scams. There is an urgency to it and it seems legitimate. Employees however, must always ensure they know who they are dealing with when it comes to financial transactions and confirm by various means that the request is authentic, “said Constable Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

To make sure you aren’t tricked by fake head office telephone calls, the RCMP encourages you to always know who you are dealing with when it involves money, double check the person requesting the money, limit the amount of money employees have authority for without a second signature, request the information in writing and do not accept money requests over the phone, familiarize yourself on how your company conducts financial transactions, and if bitcoin is not an approved method of payment, that should be a red flag.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center released a general bulletin about telephone extortions recently due to many SIN-related scams being reported.

They say to never provide personal information to anyone that you do not know. Simply hang up. 

More information is available here. More tips on how to defend yourself from scams is available here.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, you’re asked to report it to your local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s Online Fraud Reporting System online or by phone at 888-495-8501.