OPP are again raising the alarm about many schemes being used to defraud the public and businesses.
Here are just a few current examples:
- Romance Scam - scammers target vulnerable people who may be lonely and gain trust by creating a fictitious relationship. After time, they request money be sent to them for various reasons; sickness in the family and can't afford medication, surgery, airline ticket so you can finally meet, housing/rent money, etc. That person you are communicating with is NOT who they say they are.
- Bank Account Scam - Text messages and/or emails from financial institutions asking you to click on a link to verify your account information. DO NOT click on the link.
- VIN Number Scam - scammers will send you a reply to a motorized vehicle you are selling. This has been popular on Kijiji. They want to make sure there are no liens on the vehicle before purchasing. So, a link is sent to input the VIN (Vehicle Identification Number) into a website they provide. DO NOT click on the link or input your VIN into the website. That VIN number provides the scammer your personal information - name, date of birth, address, etc.
- Overpayment Scam - The scammer agrees to purchase something you are selling on-line. They send you a bank draft or cheque for more than your asking price. They ask you to deposit the draft or cheque and pay them back the difference. They are hoping you do this before your bank realizes the draft or cheque is fake.
"If you receive any unsolicited communication by any means asking for money to be given, or that you won money, be cautious and suspicious," cautions Constable Phil Young.
- NEVER give out any personal, credit or banking information to anyone over the phone, by letter, email, fax or any other means of communication.
- NEVER provide anyone your Social Insurance Number (SIN) over the phone.
- Often, the victims are presented with a situation that is either very serious and/or needs immediate attention and they feel pressured to provide the information requested on the spot. The scammer may also know limited information about you, such as name, address, and possibly a few numbers of a credit card. They use this information as a way to convince you they are who they say they are. When in reality, they are trying to get you to provide additional personal information. These are tactics frequently used in scams.
Any legitimate agency will NEVER request payment by wire transfer, online currency such as bitcoin, pre-paid credit cards or pre-paid gift cards such as Google Play, iTunes, Vanilla, etc. Scammers will ask to purchase large denomination gift cards as a form of payment.
"Awareness is key when it comes to recognizing frauds and scams. There are so many types out there but the better educated the public are, the less chance they have to fall victim to these ruthless scammers. Don't keep it a secret - talk to a friend, family member, neighbour, or police before making any decisions to send money to people you don't know", says Young.
If you believe that someone is posing as a fraudster on the phone, hang up. Also, you can file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. If you are a victim of a fraud or scam, contact your local police agency.