CRIMINALS come in all shapes and sizes but we often overlook those who prefer to hide behind technology or target those closest to them to ply their craft.
March is Fraud Prevention Month and the Surrey RCMP would like to draw attention to a selection of scams that officers have seen this past year and how to avoid becoming a victim.
Are they really who they say they are?
Impersonation scams, particularly those involving government agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), continue to be a frequent occurrence across the country and in Surrey. To give you a better understanding of this scam, we’ll be sharing some sample email, text and phone scams our own officers and employees have received through our Facebook and Twitter pages this month. For more information on how to identify these scams please visit the CRA’s website.
The hi-tech advantage
A few months ago we talked about frauds where phone “spoofing” and bitcoin are being used by scammers to dupe people out of their hard-earned money (see news release). Fraudsters are using technology to trick victims into believing that they owe money to legitimate organizations. Protect yourself by calling the organization back at a number that is publically known in order to verify the information. Also remember that payment in the form of gift cards or bitcoin are never requested by reputable agencies.
Keep an eye on granny and grandpa
Unfortunately those most vulnerable, including the elderly, still remain a target for scam artists. It is also true that the elderly can be preyed upon by scammers within their own family. Recently, our Economic Crime Unit (ECU) investigated a case where an elderly victim was allegedly scammed out of almost $150,000 by a close relative. Thankfully, other family members recognized what was going on and contacted authorities. If you suspect someone is taking financial advantage of someone you know, please contact your local police. For more information on financial abuse of seniors visit the Government of Canada website.
Who’s watching your money?
Another issue that our ECU officers see involves internal fraud being committed by employees of businesses or organizations. Currently, officers are investigating a fraud where false expense claims were allegedly created by employees. Last year we also advised about charges being laid against an individual for defrauding a school parent advisory council (see news release). These incidents highlight the need for organizations of all sizes to ensure they have safeguards in place to protect against fraud. Make sure your employees know how to properly identify a scam and there is are mechanisms in place for proper reporting and risk assessments More information on business fraud is available at theCanadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
You’ve heard it before, but we’ll say it again
When you hear the term mail theft you may not automatically think of fraud, but that is the primary reason mail is stolen. Once thieves steal a piece of your mail, they will usually attempt to assume your identity for financial benefit. They will often try to obtain more of your mail order to build a profile and perpetuate the fraud even further. Check your mail daily, always report damage and suspicious activity around mailboxes, and alert your carrier if you plan on being away. Attend one of our upcoming Shred-a-Thons to shred your personal documents and learn more about how to protect your identity.
For more information on scam and fraud prevention please visit the Surrey RCMP’s website. If you are a victim of fraud, please contact your local police and report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online.