A North Saanich couple recently contacted Sidney North Saanich RCMP to report that they were out a significant amount of money as a result of an email “Phishing” scam.

The victims said they had received what appeared to be a legitimate email from a major Canadian bank, advising them that their account had been compromised.

The email directed them to provide their banking and personal information to resolve the issue. The couple followed the instructions included in the email and a short time later, discovered that over $20,000 had been fraudulently withdrawn from their account.

Sidney North Saanich RCMP are continuing to investigate but wish to remind the public to be wary if they receive these types of messages because “Phishing” scams are becoming more prevalent of late.

“Phishing” by definition, is the attempt by fraudsters to obtain your sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, bank account and personal information, or credit card details by making it appear that the message is a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.

The word “Phishing” is similar to the word “Fishing” due to the similarity of using a bait in an attempt to catch a victim.

According to the 3rd Microsoft Computing Safer Index Report released in February 2014, the annual worldwide impact of “Phishing” scams could be as high as $5 billion.

“Phishing” is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website, the look and feel of which are almost identical to the legitimate one.

Communications purporting to be from banks, credit card companies, online payment processors or IT administrators are often used to lure victims. “Phishing” emails may also contain links to websites that are infected with malware.

If you receive one of these “Phishing” type messages that appear to have been sent to you from your Banking or Financial Institution, do not respond, and do not click on any links provided within the message.

The best course of action is to contact your Bank or Financial Institution directly and enquire about the legitimacy of the message.

Sidney North Saanich RCMP hope that by making the public more aware, “we can reduce the number of people that fall victim to these scams.”

In many cases, once the money is gone, the chances of recovering it are slim. The best way for people to protect themselves is through education so they don’t fall victim to these scams in the first place.

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