If someone identifying themselves as being with the police or a government agency demands money over the phone, just hang up.
That’s the message the Delta Police Department is hoping to spread after a recent immigrant fell victim to just such a scam.
According to a press release, a woman in Delta was recently defrauded of $6,000 she had saved up over the past six months working at a fast food restaurant in the city. The scammer in this case pretended to be a police officer investigating the woman for money laundering.
“Unfortunately, the woman was convinced she was talking to a police officer, and was instructed to purchase $6,000 worth of bitcoin, which she did through a machine in Surrey,” Cris Leykauf, DPD’s public affairs manager, said in a press release. Bitcoin deposits are not traceable and can be accessed by a fraudster located anywhere in the world.
“We’re asking for assistance in spreading the word to media outlets and organizations who work with newcomers to Canada, to help educate people,” Leykauf said. “Canadian police officers will never call you and ask for or demand payment. If this happens to you, it is a scam. Hang up immediately.”
The call in this case appeared to come from Services Canada, however there are a number of apps that allow users to spoof phone numbers, and scammers have used the Delta Police Department’s non-emergency number this way in the past.
Aside from bitcoin deposits, scammers also often request payment through gift cards as well. Police note governments in Canada do not ask for payment via either bitcoin or gift cards.
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 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.