Delta police have issued a warning to residents regarding “traditional” scams that are continuing to make the rounds locally.
According to police, businesses and individuals continue to be targeted by scammers, and so far this year Canadians have lost nearly $16 million to fraudsters. Because of that, the Delta Police Department has put out an overview of some scams that have recently been reported to police.
Police say two Delta residents were the latest people to be victimized by this scam, losing approximately $2,500 and $3,000 each. In both cases, the residents were contacted by someone claiming to represent a grandson who was in jail and needing bail money. In one case, the grandson was allegedly in jail for impaired driving.
“If someone calls you claiming to be a relative in urgent trouble and they’re asking for money, we recommend you hang up, and contact your relative directly yourself,” Const. Dustin Classen of the DPD’s economic and technical crime unit said in a press release. “These fraudsters always try to convince you to pay immediately, before you have a chance to really assess the situation. Instead, take your time, hang up and call your relative to discuss the matter with them.”
Business email compromised
All business owners and those who deal with finances and accounts for companies should be aware that email addresses can be spoofed, and sometimes requests for payment may come from those fake email addresses.
Three of these were reported to Delta police in the last two weeks. In two of the cases, a wire transfer was stopped before the company lost thousands of dollars. The third case is under investigation.
“Be particularly wary if an email is requesting you to change a destination account or to wire transfer money,” Classen advised. “Always verify any such request with a phone call using a number you already have for the company or individual, or ideally, verify the request in person or through a video meeting.”
Typically in these scams, the scammer reaches out to a potential target online while pretending to be someone they are not, often using personal information or photos stolen or obtained elsewhere. The relationship proceeds very quickly as the victim develops strong feelings for the scammer, and they are then convinced to send the scammer money to assist them with some urgent problem or crisis.
“If you suspect a friend or relative is the victim of a romance scam, it can be really hard to convince them that their new love interest doesn’t really exist,” Classsen said. “Oftentimes the person being scammed will feel very embarrassed. In a recent file, we were able to assist by helping to prove that the scammer’s persona was fake — a person who didn’t really exist.”
Police say that right now, when people are potentially feeling lonely and isolated due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s a greater chance that people will fall victim to this type of scam.
“Talking about scams and shining a light on them is the best way to inoculate ourselves against them,” Classen said, encouraging people to reach out to friends and loved ones to ensure they’re aware of these and other common scams.
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 to 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.