Police warn against current phone scams all across Canada

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October 22, 2019 – Police departments from all across Canada are issuing warnings against current phone scams. The fraudsters develop elaborate narratives to add legitimacy to their scams. Using spoofed phone numbers and impersonating CRA employees or police officers are common tricks used by scammers. They are often targeting Canadians who are vulnerable to their schemes such as seniors and newcomers. The police explain that phone scams are occurring on a regular basis and advise to hang up on suspicious callers.

Every day police services and departments from all across Canada issue new warnings about current phone scams targeting Canadians. Police efforts are aiming to make it harder for fraudsters to prey on Canadians. The authorities report on these incidents to make the public aware of current schemes and subsequently more resilient to these fraudulent attacks. In general, police explain that phone scams are occurring on a regular basis and advise to hang up on suspicious callers.

Delta, British Columbia

The Delta police reported on October 17 about a phone scammer who claimed to be a police officer. The fraudster threatened the woman, who was a Newcomer to Canada that she was investigated against in connection with money laundering.

They used call ID spoofing so the number appeared to come from the department of Service Canada. The police pointed out that spoofing phone numbers can be achieved easily via apps. The Delta Police Department’s non-emergency number has been misused in this way in the past by scammers as well.

‘Unfortunately the woman was convinced she was talking to a police officer, and was instructed to purchase $6,000 worth of bitcoins, which she did through a machine in Surrey,’ said Delta Police spokesperson, Cris Leykauf.

The Delta police indicated that Canadian police officers will never demand payment over the phone and that governments in Canada do not ask for payment via bitcoin or gift cards. The cryptocurrency is not traceable and can be accessed by fraudsters anywhere in the world.

Vancouver, British Columbia

On the same day, the Vancouver Police department warned about the use of their non-emergency number in recent CRA scams. Numerous residents reported that they first have been called and asked for the police department’s phone number and then received another call, appearing to be from the Vancouver police non-emergency number. The caller pretended to be a police officer or a CRA employee.

The fraudster provided a fake badge number and claimed that the person’s ‘social insurance number has been used to create credit card accounts with substantial balances owing.’ During these calls, the fake officer tried to convince the potential victim that they are responsible for the debt and that they have to pay it off using Bitcoin or gift cards.

‘The non-emergency police line is for residents to use to report incidents to the police. The police will never call you from the non-emergency number and will never solicit payment,’ says Sergeant Aaron Roed, VPD.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

The Saskatoon police received over 60 complaints on October 21 regarding a robocall phone scam. Saskatoon residents have been targeted by automated voice messages claiming that they have ‘violated federal laws’ and that their Social Insurance Number would be on the record.

‘Police wish to advise the public to hang up, not follow the directions of this robocall and report it to Police.’, the authorities suggested in a statement.

Sarnia, Ontario

October 21, Sarnia police also advised the public about a recent phone scam. A Sarnia resident fell victim to an impertinent fraudster and lost over $17,000. On October 11, the victim received a phone call from an automated voice recording claiming to be from Service Canada. He was told to push 1 and subsequently, a fake agent with Service Canada answered the phone claiming that his identification has been stolen and a search warrant was issued against him for money-laundering and drug trafficking.

The phone call went on for about seven hours. Meanwhile, the fraudster directed the victim to deposit money for multiple purposes to prevent being arrested. At first, the victim withdrew $2,600 from his bank account and sent it to the fraudster using Safari gift cards in order to pay off the claimed fees. Thereafter, he was told to pay $10,000 to have the warrant and charges dropped and after that, the fraudster convinced him to pay an additional $5,000 for legal fees. The victim was intimidated by the caller and continued to follow their instructions. He acquired the funds with the assistance of his family and deposited the money into two different bitcoin machines in London, Ontario.

After he deposited the $17,600, he was finally told to drive home. Even during the four-hour drive, the fraudster stayed on the phone and threatened the victim that he would be arrested if he hung up. For the purpose of this claimed ‘investigation’ and with the prospect of being refunded for the multiple fees he paid, the victim told the fraudster his address and the last three digits of his Social Insurance Number. Eventually, the victim hung up and reported the incident to the police.

The police alert the public that these criminals are skilled at attacking a victim’s emotions and vulnerabilities. Anyone who received a call in connection with this type of phone scam is encouraged to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm. Anyone who believes to be a victim and lost money to a scam is encouraged to contact the local police service. For more information on phone or telemarketing scams, please see the website of the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.