On Friday, we discussed how to protect yourself from becoming a victim of fraud. On the last day of Fraud Prevention Month, we would like to share some cases our officers have investigated in the hopes you can prevent this from happening to you or your loved ones.
1. Account Takeover: Recently, a man noticed his bank account contained lower amounts than he expected. An examination of the account showed a series of unexplained ATM withdrawals. An investigation revealed the victim/account holder had inadvertently responded to a pop up advertisement while performing Internet banking, thereby exposing his private banking information. Unfortunately, the victim/account holder provided his card number and PIN within the pop up and the account was compromised.
2. Romance Scams: The female victim joined a dating site in order to meet males who she felt were compatible with her beliefs and values. The victim provided her personal information such as home address, email address and telephone number(s). The fraudster groomed the victim over several weeks to gain her trust. She was directed by her new companion to wire money and stolen cheques at a bank. The victim did not realize she was being used by her companion until being contacted by the bank. She is responsible for the outstanding debt.
3. Kijiji Ticket Scam: Unscrupulous individuals used Kijiji to advertise various tickets for sale, most notably the Toronto Maple Leafs and the upcoming Boots and Hearts Music Festival. The buyer/victim contacted the seller and the transaction was completed. The buyer of the tickets either received forged copies of the tickets or nothing at all. An arrest warrant was issued for a male suspect in relation to the music festival.
4. CRA/IRS Scam: In this scam, the victim received a telephone from a person that identified himself as a representative of the IRS and /or CRA. The victim was told they owed large sums of money and were facing a prison sentence, or steep fines, if the matter was not addressed. The victim was offered a deal entailing the purchase of Visa or gift cards in order to avoid prosecution. The fraudster then directed the victim to provide the numbers on the reverse side of the cards and reloaded cash value onto another card. There have been 14 reported incidents of this type of scheme in the last three weeks.
5. Nanny Scam: The victim was a daycare worker who had advertised for an opening in her residence for other children. The fraudster contacted the victim via email and sent pictures of his perfect family, thereby establishing the cover story that comforted the victim. The victim was told a cheque would be forthcoming and was to be used to secure the daycare spot for his child. The victim received a cheque which was an over-payment. The unsuspecting victim cashed the cheque and sent the remaining funds back to the fraudster.
6. Equipment Scam: The victim was attempting to sell an item (a vending machine) on a specialty equipment website that is frequented by similar industry types. The victim was contacted by the buyer and a deal was consummated. The buyer subsequently provided a phony pay site (mimicking PayPal) and directed the victim to wire money as a method to cover the advanced shipping costs. The victim was not aware the buyer was a fraudster until after the money was sent via wire service.
7. Items for Sale: Several Durham residents have fallen victim to this scheme. It has contains the same components as the ticket and equipment scams. Items are advertised and money is wired, sometimes with an overpayment, which is then sent to the fraudster, but the victim has not sold their item and is now out the money.
8. Grandparent Scam: A senior citizen was contacted by a person claiming to be representative of their grandson. The grandparent was advised their grandson had been in accident and required money for lawyers fees, towing costs and court billings. The grandparent was directed to wire funds to the representative, but to keep things quiet as to not cause the family any embarassment.
9. Spoofing: Recently a medium-sized company in Toronto reported being a victim of fraud. An investigation revealed the fraudster mimicked the email address of one the companys three executives. The fraudster, using the mimicked email address, sent a message to another executive and directed them to send funds from their bank account to another bank account. The funds were sent and were traced to another account that had been established by an unsuspecting female being used in a romance scam.
10. Stolen Cheques: A number of companies reported mailing cheques via Canada Post over the last year. The cheques were intended for other companies in order to pay outstanding accounts. The cheques were intercepted, copied and sent to unsuspecting people who had been brought into the scam through other interactions established on dating sites.
11. Paving Scam: Every spring police receive dozens of reports from citizens regarding a paving scam. Suspects would approach their victim at their home and ask if they wanted their driveway paved as the company had left-over asphalt from a nearby job. The suspects would pave the victims driveway and demand a much higher amount of money for the job. In many cases, the victims were elderly and pressured into paying the greatly inflated amount. In other cases, the victims were threatened with bodily harm if they didnt pay. In many cases, the suspects drove the victims to the bank and waited with them while the elderly victims obtained a certified cheque.
You will notice many of the schemes overlap. Fraudsters will use victims multiple times once they have fostered a relationship with the victim. They will also share your personal information, including email and home addresses, with other potential fraudsters, therefore increasing your risk of becoming a victim multiple times. If you have been a victim, as a preventative measure you should change your email address, and PIN.
Please use caution and good judgment when asked for any personal information and hopefully, this wont happen to you. If you think you have fallen victim to a scam, please contact our non-emergency number at 1-888-579-1520 to speak to an officer.
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