Would-be fraud victim wants to warn others

Last-minute interception by credit union keeps Surrey man from falling for ‘family member’ ruse

A Surrey man who nearly lost almost $3,000 to fraudsters is hoping his experience will save others from falling victim.

The man, a Vancity credit union member who asked to not be identified, told Peace Arch News it all began with a phone call from someone professing to be his nephew.

The caller sounded upset, and told of being arrested in the U.S. for drinking and driving, he said. “The story got very involved and very complicated,” with the bottom line being that the ‘nephew’ needed $2,850 to “make it all go away.”

At no point – including after he clicked “send” to complete the money transfer – did the 63-year-old consider that someone might be trying to take advantage of him.

It wasn’t until a phone call shortly after from a Vancity security official – advising that the payment had been blocked – that he realized he was being duped.

“I fell for it hook, line and sinker,” the man said. “I could not believe it when I started looking at it – 20/20 hindsight.

“There were so many warning signs.”

Vancity’s director of IT strategy and risk, Geordie Cree, said it’s not uncommon for targets of such scams to be caught up in the emotion of the situation shared by their purported relative and the desire to help.

“It happens quite frequently,” Cree said. “Sometimes, they’re just so good at convincing you… it’s sometimes easy to let your guard down.”

Cree said taking a moment to make a followup call to the person who has supposedly reached out can be all it takes to avoid being scammed.

In this case, it was Vancity’s security team that intercepted the suspect activity and contacted the victim.

The nefarious intent was further confirmed for the credit union member when a man claiming to be his nephew’s lawyer called back to ask for the transfer confirmation number.

“I said I think I better talk to (my nephew) again, and the line went dead,” he said.

The Surrey man said he is “incredibly fortunate” that Vancity caught the scam so quickly.

And as embarrassing as it is to have fallen for the scam, he hopes others will learn from it.

“I just hope it saves somebody else,” he said.

Cree said Vancity offers information both in-branch and online (www.vancity.com) on how people can identify warning signs and protect themselves from fraud.

As well, its Each One, Teach One program offers workshops to promote financial literacy and independence.

People who suspect they have been targeted can also contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca