Date: Friday, February 19, 2021
Files: 21-6348, 21-6342, 21-5830, 21-6091
Victoria, BC – VicPD investigators are warning the public after computer-aided fraudsters stole $5,400 in four days in four different files. Each of these files remains under investigation, but in most cases of international cybercrime and fraud, the victims’ losses will not be recovered.
21-6348 | $1,400 “Tax on Winnings” Wire Fraud
On February 16th, the victim called police to report that they had been the victim of a wire fraud. The victim received a series of phone calls from the scammer, who informed the victim that they needed to pay tax on money they had won. The victim sent $1,400 by wire transfer before realizing they had been scammed.
Scammers are utilizing internet-based phone services, commonly called “voice over IP” to conduct hundreds of scam attempt calls. In this investigation, the scammer promises a substantial payout for the victim if they pay a small fee, often called a tax. In Canada, you do not have to pay money for lottery or other winnings.
How to protect yourself | If someone tells you that you have to pay money to access winnings, it’s a scam.
21-6342 | $2,700 Funeral Expenses Loan Scam Breaks Heart
On February 16th, the victim called police to report that they had been the victim of a romance scam. The victim, who met the scammer on the “Finally” dating app, had begun what they believed to be a genuine relationship with the scammer. After building a relationship, the scammer told the victim there had been a death in the family and that he needed to borrow $2,700 for funeral expenses. As soon as the victim transferred the money the scammer disappeared and deleted his profile on the app.
Scammers are utilizing dating apps and internet-based phone services together to connect with people looking to build trusted, loving relationships and take advantage of them for financial gain. This type of fraud both costs the victim money and heartbreak.
How to protect yourself | If someone you’ve met online on a dating site asks you for money, even if they’ve sent you pictures of themselves and you’ve spoken by phone, beware. Sophisticated romance scammers will take the time so you believe the relationship is genuine before attempting the fraud. If someone you’ve met online, but never in person, asks you for money, beware – it’s likely a scam.
21-5830 | $500 “Google Play Card” Computer Repair Fraud
On February 12th, the victim called police to report that they had been the victim of a “Google Play Card” cyberattack scam. The victim received a phone call from the scammer, who informed the victim that their computer had been infected with spam. The caller convinced the victim to screenshare with them to fix the problem. During the screenshare, the screen focused on the victim’s banking information. The scammer then convinced the victim to purchase $500 worth of Google Play cards, then take pictures of the information on the back of the cards and send these pictures to the scammer.
The victim then realized they had been scammed.
Scammers are pairing these same internet-based phone services, with screensharing and other technical tools to gain access to victims’ personal information and to scam them. Often funds are transferred by Google Play, Steam, Apple Store and other online gift cards. Once the information on the back of the cards is shared, the money is gone. The information is often resold on online market places for crypto currencies. The request to share the information from the back of the cards is a strong warning sign that the interaction is a cybercrime fraud attempt.
How to protect yourself | If someone you do not know contacts you to tell your computer is infected with spam or a virus, it’s a scam. Sharing your screen with strangers is risky. If someone asks you to pay for a service using Google Play or other online cards by taking photos of the back and sending that information to them, it’s a scam.
21-6091 | $900 Wire Fraud Targets Senior
On February 14th, the victim called police to report that they had been the victim of a wire fraud. The victim received a series of phone calls from the scammer, who informed the victim that they needed to wire money to access a line of credit. The victim sent $900 by wire transfer, before realizing they had been scammed. In this sophisticated scam, the fraudster also compromised the senior’s personal information and bank accounts and would likely have attempted to steal more if the senior had not called police.
Similar to the attempts above, scammers are utilizing internet-based phone services, commonly called “voice over IP” to conduct hundreds of scam attempt calls. In this investigation, the scammer promised unsolicited financial services to the victim if they pay a fee. If you receive an unsolicited request for financial services purporting to be your financial institution, use caution, hang up, and contact your financial institution on your own.
How to protect yourself | If someone tells you that you have to pay money via wire transfer for local financial services, it’s a scam.
You can learn more about how to protect yourself, your family and your organization from fraud by visiting vicpd.ca/fraud. If you have fallen victim to a fraud, stop payment immediately, contact your financial institution and call our Report Desk at (250) 995-7654 extension 1.
If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of an attempted fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.