There are hundreds of sophisticated scams that are defrauding Victorians of thousands of dollars every year.
What are you doing to protect yourself and your loved ones?
BC RCMP says that as of December 31st, 2022, more than 90,000 frauds with losses topping $530 million had been reported to Canada’s anti-fraud authority.
According to the Canadian Anti Fraud Center, what is more disturbing than those numbers is that only around 5% of all frauds are 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 R/Cst Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.
The following are examples of common frauds committed in Greater Victoria and on Vancouver Island:
Gift card scam
These scams typically begin with a cold call from a stranger impersonating a bank or Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)employee or a credit card company representative.
A scammer will phone their victims and tell them that their credit card has been compromised or saying they owe back taxes. They will then tell their victim in order to pay, they must purchase a number of gift cards.
The victim is told where to go to purchase the gift cards and when. Following the purchase they will call back the scammer and provide the 10 digit code on the back of the card.
According to Nanaimo RCMP, several people in their jurisdiction have lost between $2,000 and $15,000 to this type of scam in recent months.
Police say this is a classic scam that has been impacting primarily senior citizens for years. It’s effectiveness comes from it being an emotional scam in nature.
This scam begins with the fraudster calling someone claiming to be their grandson, family member or a police officer calling on behalf of a loved one.
The caller says that they were involved in some type of accident or emergency situation — they will ask for money to help them get out of the situation they are in.
They will be hesitant to divulge information due to a fabricated excuse such as an information ban or embarrassment.
The victim will then be told to withdraw, wire or send money to the scammer. Some have even been directed to pay in cryptocurrency.
It is important to be vigilant and never reply to suspicious text messages.
This scam will typically start with an out-of-the-blue text message telling the victim they are entitled to money.
Victims are asked to reply with a predetermined response such as, ‘yes.’
This scam will give fraudsters access to your phone which may allow them to access your personal information and credit card information.
This type of scam is incredibly diverse in what the text messages will say. If a text seems even remotely suspicious, it is better to contact whoever the message sender is claiming to be directly.
- Some tips on avoiding gift cards scams after Nanaimo senior defrauded of $15,000
- Saanich woman scammed thousands of dollars while trying to purchase puppy online
There are many other types of scams that contribute to people being defrauded of their money every day. The examples in this article are just the most prevalent on Vancouver Island to be aware of.
Canada’s National Anti-Fraud Centre has a wealth of resources for avoiding being scammed. They recommend taking the following steps to avoid falling victim to a scams such as these:
- Don’t be afraid to say no – request the information your caller wants in writing or just hang up the phone
- Ask for verification – banks and government organizations don’t typically ask for money over the phone. Ask for some verification regarding who your caller says they represent
- Don’t give out your personal information over the phone unless you made the call to an organization you trust. Don’t give out:
- Your name
- Your address
- Your birthdate
- Your Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Your credit card or banking information
- Beware of “upfront fees” – some scammers will ask you to pay fees before receiving a prize, shipment or a service. This is illegal in Canada. If you win something, it is free
- Protect your computer – don’t click on random pop-ups in your internet browser and don’t call any phone numbers that pop-up. These put your computer at risk of viruses that may be able to share your personal information
- Be careful of sharing pictures – especially when it comes to expletive content. Do not share anything someone might be able to use as leverage against you
- Protect your accounts – have strong passwords, use multi-factor authentication, only log into accounts from trusted sources and don’t share personal information on social media
- Recognize spoofing – scammers will clone emails, phone numbers and websites to try to make you think they are contacting you from a trusted source. To protect yourself from spoofing you should:
- Never assume phone numbers on your call display are accurate
- Hang up then call back a number when someone claims to be contacting you from your financial institution, service provider, law enforcement or government agency
- Call the company or agency in question directly if you receive a text message or email. Make sure you research their contact information and call the number on their website
- Never click on links received via text message or email
- When visiting a website, always verify the URL and domain to make sure you are on the official website