New Phone Scams Strike Across Canada

6 June 2015

Fraudsters and scammers don’t take a summer vacation. In fact, they seem to have been ramping up their efforts recently, with two new phone scams cropping up across provincial lines.

In one of the recent incidents, a Vancouver woman told police that fraudsters tried to scam her out of her personal information by claiming to be calling from the police department. Jodi Sommer received a voicemail on Thursday, June 18, from someone impersonating a police officer. They claimed there was a warrant out for her arrest, but if she called in and spoke with them, they might be able to get rid of the warrant.

“I was told that I was under investigation, but before they sent the arrest warrant to the local police division, which seemed odd, they thought we could have a little chat to resolve some problems,” Sommer told the CBC.

Vancouver police say that although they investigate numerous similar scams on a regular basis, they had never heard of this particular one before. They believe that the scam is intended to intimidate law-abiding people while taking advantage of their trust in the police.
“I’m thinking of the people they’re trying to scam — law-abiding citizens who are terrified — they have no idea what this is all about. They’re more than willing to phone the police because they trust them,” Sommer said.

Meanwhile, in Peterborough, Ontario, an elderly woman who had previously been victimized by a Publishers Clearing House scam was cheated out of another $1,000 by fraudsters who claimed they could help her recover money from the original scam. Earlier this month, the woman received a phone call from the scammers, who convinced her that if she sent $1,000 to them, they would be able to return the money she had already lost. Instead, of course, the scammers kept the money and the woman never heard back from them.

According to Peterborough police, the original scammers and the recent ones were probably either working together, or one group sold the woman’s information to the other. This is one of the ways in which identity thieves work together to deceive money out of their victims. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), it’s very common for people who have already fallen victim to a phone scam to be contacted again by people claiming they can help return their money. The CAFC urges Canadians to be aware of this practice and not allow themselves to be victimized twice.

To avoid phone scams, it’s important to verify the information that the person on the phone is telling you with the relevant authorities. For example, if someone is telling you there’s a warrant out for your arrest, contact your local police department directly and ask them whether this is true. Moreover, you should avoid sending money via money wire or electronic transfer to anyone you don’t know, as these transfers are harder to get refunded than credit or debit card transactions.

If you’re concerned about falling victim to a phone scam, which can end in identity theft and significant financial losses, give yourself some peace of mind by signing up for a credit monitoring service.