BY RATTAN MALL
(Please read this very carefully, so that you can avoid being scammed. The best advice we can give is to hang up when you get a suspicious phone call and then call the number on your call display to determine whether it is really from your relative or the police or any other government department. Also, always consult another person about it or call the local police number first. No government agency will ever ask you for money over the phone.)
He was told that his son had been arrested for links with some terrorists and he had to pay up for an out-of-court settlement if he didn’t want to see his son stay in jail
ATAM Prakash, a visitor from India who is staying with his son in Surrey, was subjected to a nightmare of an experience on Thursday, when he received a fraudulent telephone call in which the caller using his son’s cell phone number identified himself as a police officer and informed him that his son was under arrest because he had links with some terrorists.
It all started when his son, Shashi (The VOICE is not using their last name to protect their identity), a businessman, received a call just after 12 p.m. (noon) from 1-800-463-2245 informing him that they were calling from FedEx courier company regarding a packet for his wife. The caller said that they had to deliver it at her home between 6 and 6:30 p.m.
An unsuspecting Shashi told the caller that his father would be home and gave them his cell phone number.
That was the start of a harrowing experience for his father.
A few minutes later, the landline phone rang at the house where Atam is staying. The number on the call display indicated that it was from Canada Immigration. The caller asked for Shashi and Atam told him that Shashi was away at work and that he was his father. They then took Shashi’s wife’s name and Atam told him that she was not available.
The caller hung up abruptly.
Minutes later, Atam’s cell phone rang with Shashi’s cell phone number on the call display. Atam was told that the call was from the police department and that his son was under arrest because he had some links with terrorists. The caller said that his son was claiming that he had no links with terrorists and that his email ID may have been stolen.
Atam asked the caller if he could speak with his son, but was told that wasn’t possible. “But we are talking to you on his cell phone which is with us,” the caller added.
The caller then told him: “Now there are two ways to get him released. One way is to go to the courts. The second way is to get him released right now with an out-of-court settlement. Your son says he wants to be released right now. For that there is a procedure. You have to deposit $2,250. Do you agree?”
Atam readily agreed as he was deeply worried about his son.
The caller asked Atam if he had the money on him and Atam said he didn’t. He then asked Atam if he could get it from the bank and Atam said he could. He was then asked how far the bank was from his house. Atam gave the caller the bank’s address.
The caller then told Atam: “We are sending a taxi to your home and you be ready – but do not switch off the phone. It’s a serious matter – don’t talk to anyone about it.”
The fraudster called a local taxi company using Shashi’s cell phone number. So when the taxi arrived at his home, the taxi company called his cell phone number – and, of course, Shashi took the call. He was baffled as he hadn’t called for a taxi. Now that he was suspicious, Shashi tried to call his father, but found that his number was constantly busy. He then went to Surrey RCMP for help.
MEANWHILE, Atam saw the taxi outside his house and proceed to get in the vehicle and head for the bank. At 12:30 p.m., he was in the lineup at the bank and at 1:04 p.m., he withdrew $2,250 that he had been told he had to deposit in an account that he would be informed about. About 10 minutes later, he told the caller that he had the money and the caller then texted him the account information. But he didn’t have Wi-Fi or any data in his cell phone account. So they then provided the account information on the phone and he wrote it down.
He deposited the money in that account at 1:33 p.m. (his bank receipts showed the time). He was then instructed to send the receipt information to them to prove that he had deposited the money in that account. As the bank didn’t have Wi-Fi, the caller told him to go to some shop or to some joint like Subway or Tim Hortons.
Atam sent the caller the receipt information at 1:43 p.m. at the number 613-604-5900 as he was instructed.
He was told that they would confirm the payment and get back to him. So Atam returned to the bank and a few minutes later the caller told him that the payment had been confirmed and they wanted to tell him something. He was instructed to come out of the bank. But Atam refused as it was raining. He told the caller that he was sitting alone on a sofa and he could tell him whatever he had to. The caller then told him that the police attorney would speak to him.
The second man told him: “I am Anil Sharma, police attorney. Hear me patiently. There is nothing to worry about. Your son will be released in an hour. But there are three things. One, your son has been arrested, stating to be involved with terrorists. Two, he’s being released as an out-of-court settlement. Three, there are certain attorney charges.”
When Atam asked how much he had to pay now, the so-called police attorney said: “You will have to deposit $9,000 just now and this will be refunded to you just tomorrow. You will get back $11,500. The government will keep $50.”
Atam told the “police attorney”: “I don’t have this much money. Please allow a meeting with my son.”
He was told that that wasn’t possible at all.
Atam said: “I am a visitor here. I don’t have money. I can speak to my son to inquire about how I can arrange for the money.”
The “police attorney” asked him how much money he had. Atam told him that he had only $1,800 left in his bank account.
The “police attorney” then said: “Tell the bank you have a medical emergency and they will give you at least $3,000. But don’t tell them anything about your son’s arrest.”
However, the bank staff told Atam that they couldn’t help him as he was only a visitor. Atam withdrew $1,800 from his account and informed the “police attorney” that the bank had refused to give him $3,000.
The “police attorney” then said: “Keep waiting. I am talking to my senior if he can help you some other way.”
WHILE Atam was waiting, two Surrey RCMP officers arrived at the bank and approached him. They asked him who he was talking to on the phone. Atam replied: “To someone.” The officers insisted: “Please tell us to whom you are talking?” Atam said he was talking to some police officers. When they asked him why he was talking to them, Atam replied: “My son has been arrested.”
The officers asked him for his phone and spoke to the “police attorney” for five to seven minutes, according to Atam.
The police officers then told an anxious Atam: “Your son is with us. Don’t worry. How much have you deposited?”
Atam told him that he had deposited $2,250 already.
They then spoke with the bank manager in an effort to stop the money transfer but were told that since the payment was to a third party, the bank could not withhold it. But the bank manager said they would still try to stop it.
Meanwhile, Atam’s son, Shashi, also arrived at the bank.
Needless to say, the father was very relieved to see his son safe and sound.
THE RCMP website warns about telephone scams:
The RCMP is warning of fraudulent telephone calls in which the caller identifies themselves as an RCMP officer calling to collect fines or income taxes or a variety of other scam tactics. The caller tells the victim they must pay immediately or will be arrested within 24 hours. In some cases, “RCMP” appears on the victim’s call display.
* Be aware: the RCMP does not contact individuals for the purpose of collecting fines or taxes and NEVER asks the public to make a payment over the telephone.
* Anyone who receives a call from someone alleging to be a police officer collecting fines or taxes should hang up immediately and contact their local police, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (Toll free 1-888-495-8501).