A Victoria woman is out $6,000 after falling victim to fraudsters impersonating the local police force.
According to the victim, she answered a call from a toll-free phone number and an automated message played, claiming that her social insurance number had been compromised. She was prompted to press a button to speak with a police officer and when she did, the man who answered identified himself as an RCMP officer.
He told her that COVID-19 prevented him from visiting her in person and asked her about her location before “transferring” her call to another person impersonating a Victoria police officer. That person even provided a fake badge number to make the scam more convincing.
The fake police officer reportedly told the victim her identification had been stolen and instructed her to withdraw money from her accounts and deposit it into a bitcoin machine that would transfer the money to the federal government.
The woman was persuaded to deposit $6,000 into a bitcoin machine.
“These fraudsters are often both aggressive and convincing,” said the real Victoria Police Department in a statement. “They will often ‘spoof’ legitimate telephone numbers like those of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), and local police departments, including VicPD. They often will not allow their potential victims to hang up or leave the phone call.”
VicPD emphasized the department will never demand cash or request funds transferred through bitcoin.
“If someone contacts you by telephone claiming to be from VicPD and asks you to pay money to resolve a social insurance number issue or ongoing criminal complaint, hang up. It’s a scam.”
Anyone who has fallen victim to a scam like this is encouraged to contact their financial institution immediately and ensure all unauthorized payments are stopped. Inform your bank of the fraud and change all passwords and access information, then call the VicPD non-emergency line at 250-995-7654.
To report an attempted fraud, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
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