5 realistic scams that hit Ontario in June

Supported By:

Net Patrol International Inc.  Data Investigation and Forensic Services
Bankruptcy and Insolvency Trustees

A rising wave of scams is deceiving Ontario residents, causing financial losses as they fall prey to these deceptive schemes.

Here are five scams that have been circulating the region this month.

AirBNB Scam

The scam involves fraudsters using a camouflaged chatbot that pretends to be an official customer service agent on platforms like Airbnb.

The chatbot lures victims with promises of discounts, such as 20 per cent off a booking, and then instructs them to send an e-transfer for payment. This raises red flags since legitimate transactions on such platforms should only be conducted through their official payment systems.

The scammers also use vague language and request personal information, such as names and phone numbers, to further their deceit.

Parking ticket scam

Scammers are sending text messages claiming to collect money for outstanding parking tickets, instructing recipients to pay fines through links in the messages.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre this is an example of a smishing attempt which is a text message variation of phishing.

Authorities say they do not use text messages to communicate about parking violations or fines. This scheme attempts to retrieve personal information, such as credit card details and other banking information, to steal funds or commit further fraud.

Home renovation scams

With summer here, many homeowners are planning upgrades, but it’s essential to be cautious about who you hire for the job.

Scammers posing as home renovation contractors are visiting homes, offering free inspections and services like chimney or roofing repairs. They initially agree on a price, but then repeatedly inflate and change the cost without completing any work. In some instances, they even cause damage to justify their services. These fraudsters often request immediate cash payments.

To avoid falling victim to such scams, police recommend the following consumer protection tips:

  • Get recommendations from people you trust.
  • Conduct thorough research on potential contractors.
  • Avoid being pressured into making quick decisions.
  • Ensure the contractor is insured.
  • Obtain multiple written estimates.
  • Check references.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers, especially door-to-door.
  • Secure written contracts that include the exact cost of the project, guarantee/warranty information, the work requested and agreed upon, start and finish dates, and a receipt.

Good Samaritan taxi scam

In this scam, two individuals park a vehicle resembling a taxi. One person poses as the taxi driver, while the other pretends to be a customer. They stage an argument, with the “taxi driver” refusing to accept cash due to alleged protocols. A passerby, acting as a Good Samaritan, is approached and asked to help by using their debit card to pay the fare in exchange for cash.

When the victim enters their PIN into a modified debit machine, the terminal records their card data and PIN. After the transaction, the victim is handed a different bank card that resembles their own, while the suspects keep the victim’s actual debit card. Using the PIN, the scammers then make fraudulent transactions with the card.

To avoid falling victim to this scam, follow these tips:

  • Do not give your card to anyone. Always keep your card in your possession.
  • Do not return a debit card machine with your card still inserted. Ensure you remove your card after completing a transaction.
  • Do not use your personal card to make a payment to an unknown person in exchange for cash. Be cautious of such requests from strangers.
  • Inspect your card after each transaction to ensure it is your own. Verify that the card you get back is indeed yours.
  • Cover your fingers when entering your PIN. Shield the keypad to prevent others from seeing your PIN.

“Pig Butchering” crypto and romance scam

The scam, known as “pig butchering,” involves fraudsters who use social manipulation and financial grooming to exploit people’s interest in cryptocurrency. They contact victims through dating apps or social media to build a relationship and gain trust. The scammers then claim to have succeeded with cryptocurrency investments and offer to help the victim get rich quickly. Using fake online trading platforms, they convince victims to transfer funds or cryptocurrency, only to find that they cannot withdraw their money.

Fraudsters may pose as friends, romantic partners, or legitimate investment advisers. Once they have obtained a substantial amount of money, they cease contact. When victims sometimes request their money back, the fraudsters demand additional funds for supposed taxes and fees before disappearing. New entities may even approach victims, offering to help recover their funds for a fee, which is another layer of fraud.

The Canadian government, on its website, offers safety precautions to residents to protect themselves and their devices against smishing scams:

  • If you are uncertain about the authenticity of a text, verify with the sender using an alternative method, such as the phone number listed on the business’s official website.
  • Avoid clicking on suspicious links or responding to questionable texts. Instead, when possible, manually type the web address into a browser.
  • Delete the message and block the number if you suspect a smishing attempt. Refrain from responding, even if the text instructs you to text “STOP” or “NO” to halt messages. Responding may confirm that your phone number is active to the spammer, leading to more smishing attempts.
  • Forward any spam text messages to 7726 (SPAM on most keypads). This action notifies your phone provider, allowing them to block future texts from that specific number.

This article was originally sourced from www.insauga.com