Surrey RCMP warn of fraudsters

Even a Mountie's grandmother got caught in one of the schemes.

They met online and a strong bond developed between the pair.

Grieving her father’s loss, the woman asks her new online partner to handle her father’s estate. A cheque is mailed and cashed – and determined to be fake.

He’s out $9,000 and she is gone.

A woman receives a text indicating she’s won the lottery. A cheque arrives with the requirement she send money back for insurance purposes. The lottery cheque is fraudulent and the woman is out $900.

The Surrey RCMP’s Operational Communications Centre receives hundreds of these types of fraud complaints each year.

“It’s heartbreaking,” said Operational Communications Centre Manager Lindsay Scott. “Fraud is so prevalent, it seems everyone you talk to has a story to tell about someone trying to defraud them out of their money.”

With March being Fraud Prevention Month, the Surrey RCMP’s Economic Crime Unit is reminding residents about some common scams and how to protect themselves.

As it turns out, even the families of police officers can fall victim to these scams.

One Surrey RCMP officer describes how his grandmother was scammed by the “grandparent scam.” This scheme involves someone on the phone pretending to be a grandchild in trouble and needing money to get out of a jam.

“She’s on a fixed income and lives by herself, so $500 was a lot,” said the officer. “She is still so embarrassed by it that she refuses to report it. Her grandchildren aren’t the type to get into trouble, so one would think that she would be wise to this ruse, but it goes to show you that anyone can be a victim.”

Surrey RCMP is warning the public to be aware of the following popular scams:

• Can You Hear Me?

The “Can You Hear Me?” scam has been widely reported in the U.S. and is now making its way to Canada. It essentially involves phone calls being made by scammers who ask the victim, “can you hear me?” When the victim says “yes,” the fraudster records it and then uses the affirmative response to purchase items and sign the victim up for various consumer goods and services that they didn’t agree to.

• Don’t get “over-taxed”

Tax season is just around the corner and police are expecting an increase in fraudulent Canada Revenue Agency phone scams.

Victims  receive, either by phone, mail, text message or email, a communication that claims to be from the Canada Revenue Agency requesting personal information such as a social insurance, credit card, bank account, or passport number.

These scammers may insist this personal information is needed so that the taxpayer can receive a refund or a benefit payment.

People should never respond to these type of requests, police say.

“While people may have become more educated due to the sheer volume of this type of fraud last year, there’s a strong possibility that it will pop up again and catch people off-guard,” said Surrey RCMP Const. Brad Edwards.

• Show me the money

Tax time is also when business owners, especially small business owners, rely on their in-house bookkeepers to ensure their books are balanced. Sometimes, however, employers may not realize they have been the victim of internal fraud before it’s too late.

Surrey RCMP has received calls from business owners who have stumbled upon irregularities in their banking records only to realize fraudulent activity by those they have entrusted with their finances. • The postman always rings twice

One of the easiest ways for fraudsters to gain access to your personal information is by stealing your identity. Over the past two months, Surrey RCMP has seen a slight rise in theft from communal mailboxes at townhouses and apartment complexes. While officers have made some recent arrests of prolific property crime offenders, public vigilance is key in preventing this type of theft and police urge people to keep an eye out for anyone suspicious.

• What can you do?

“Check your mail regularly, be diligent in checking your credit card statements and tracking online purchases, and if it’s too good to be true it probably is,” said Edwards. “Use only reliable online sources and contact the company directly if you’re still unsure. Always protect sensitive financial information. If you don’t recognize the phone number, don’t answer it. They can always leave a message. And don’t forget to report all frauds to the police.”

For more information on scam and fraud prevention visit the Surrey RCMP’s fraud page (http://bit.ly/2liJizw).

If you are a victim of fraud, contact Surrey RCMP at 604-599-0502 and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (http://bit.ly/1PQLh6T).

 

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