(HURON COUNTY, ON) – Huron County Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is urging citizens to stay vigilant against scammers following two recent cases wherein two Huron County residents were scammed out of thousands of dollars.
In the first case a victim reported being scammed out of $3,000 after purchasing gift cards and sending the scammer the authorization codes. She was tricked into believing her credit card had been credited in advance with $3,300. She was advised there was an overpayment situation and she was instructed to keep $300 for her troubles if she were to send them $3,000 back in the form of gift cards. The scammer even coached the victim as to what to say if she was questioned at the stores where she purchased the cards.
In the second instance the victim reported sending a scammer a total of $185,000 in bank drafts believing he was going to receive $2 million dollars from a lottery win. The victim sent the scammers several installments with the belief a big pay day was coming his way that included millions of dollars, a luxury vehicle and a gold card.
The advance fee scam occurs when the victim pays money to someone in anticipation of receiving something of greater value – such as a loan, contract, investment, gift or lottery winnings and then receives little or nothing in return.
Remember that savvy con artists can create very convincing scams to trick you into giving them money. They can be very convincing and pretend to work for an established, well-known business, or even a branch of the government. They will often have some basic information about you before they call.
Huron County OPP is sharing some tips from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) “12 Scams of the Holidays” to help raise awareness and prevent further victims of Fraud:
- Counterfeit Merchandise – watch out for flashy ads directing you to a website that looks like a legitimate business
- Selling Goods & Services Online – be suspicious of over payments and ensure you have a legitimate payment before you send the product
- Crypto Investments – con artists use social media and fraudulent websites. Do your homework before you consider sending money. Verify the company’s registry using the National Registration Tool: www.aretheyregistered.ca
- Romance Scams – an attractive fake identity, loving messages and sweet promises help a con artist maximize their payday
- Online Shopping – Fake ads are posted for items that do not exist. The listing price is usually “too good to be true”
- Phishing Emails and Texts – Con artists send out messages from a recognizable source. A financial institution, shipping company, Telecommunications Company, service provider, etc. asking you to submit or confirm your identity. They may include a malicious link embedded in the message
- Secret Santa – gift exchange typically posted on social media. Sending one gift leads to receiving multiple gifts in return. The exchange collects some of your personal information and pyramid schemes are illegal in Canada
- Prize Notifications – you receive a letter, phone call, or online message that you’re the big winner. Simply confirm your personal information and cover the fees to collect your prize. Remember: you can’t win a contest that you didn’t enter in the first place
- Emergency Scam – someone close to you reaches out with an urgent need for money, but you have to keep it a secret. Always take the time to verify that this is a legitimate contact and not a con artist pretending to be someone your care about
- Gift Cards – have become a popular and convenient way to give a gift. Think of them like cash – once exchanged, it’s unlikely you’ll ever get your money back. They are not meant for payments and no legitimate business (or branch of the Government) will request them, especially under pressure
- Identity Theft – this is a hectic time of year. Make sure you keep your wallet on your person and always protect your Personal Identification Number (PIN)
- Identity Fraud – con artists love a good shopping spree – especially with your name and money. Call your financial institution and the credit bureaus, Equifax Canada and TransUnion Canada, as soon as you notice: suspicious activity on your statement, unauthorized activity on your credit report, bills from service providers you don’t use, letters approving or declining credit you didn’t apply for and re-routed mail.
Pay close attention to any unsolicited contact. Whether it’s a knock on the door, phone call, letter, fax or email – always verify the contact is legitimate before you ever consider sending money or any form of gift card. This is your best defense against Fraud.
Remember: it’s your money; you work hard to earn it, so work hard to protect it.
Anyone interested in more information on fraud can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit them online at http://www.antifraudcentre.ca/.