Police say a North Delta woman was scammed out of over $10,000 by someone pretending to be calling from the Delta Police Department.
According to a news release, the woman received a phone call on Wednesday, March 4 from someone claiming to be from Service Canada who stated her social insurance number had been used illegally, and that the number was flagged as being involved in drug trafficking.
The woman was told there was an arrest warrant issued for her, and that in order to clear up the case she would need to deposit money into a Bitcoin account.
“The scammer used simple technology to make it look like the phone call was coming from the Delta Police Department non-emergency number, 604-946-4411,” Staff Sgt. Brian Hill, head of one of the DPD’s patrol divisions, said in a press release. “However, this is a common technique used by criminals.”
Police say the scammer was very convincing and pressured the woman into following his directions, and he remained on the phone with her as she made multiple bank withdrawals and deposits into Bitcoin ATMs.
“The woman was threatened and told to tell no one what was happening, not even her daughter, who became concerned for her mother and suspicious of what was happening,” Hill said.
After the daughter contacted the actual Delta Police Department, officers intercepted the woman as she was on her way to get more money to pay a further $2,000 penalty.
Because the money was deposited into a Bitcoin account, there is no way for police to trace it.
“Please help us spread the word: Canadian police officers will not call and threaten people with arrest, and then tell someone they can avoid arrest by paying in Bitcoin,” Hill said.
March is Fraud Prevention month. In 2019 alone, Canadians lost over $98 million to fraud, and police say that fraud awareness is one of the best ways to fight this problem.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) is the central agency in Canada that collects information and criminal intelligence on scams such as mass marketing fraud (telemarketing, etc.), advance fee fraud (so-called “West African letters” and such), Internet fraud and identification theft complaints. The agency publishes information on fraud types, ways to protect yourself and how report incidents of fraud on its website, antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca. You can also call CAFC toll free at 1-888-495-8501.
As well, Competition Bureau Canada, a federal law enforcement agency, publishes The Little Black Book of Scams, a guide to the latest scams and how to recognize, reject and report them. The second edition of the book — which is available in English, French, Arabic, Chinese (both simplified and traditional), Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog — and more fraud prevention resources can be found online at competitionbureau.gc.ca/eic/site/cb-bc.nsf/eng/h_00122.html.