Saanich Police warn of increasing number of scams

Saanich Police are hoping to spread the word for residents to be on guard against fraud.

“It’s not always easy to spot a scam, and new ones are invented every day. If you suspect that you may be a target of fraud, or if you have already sent funds, don’t be embarrassed – you’re not alone,” said Sgt. Jereme Leslie with the Saanich Police.

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While he doesn’t have exact numbers on the numbers of frauds reported to police in Saanich this year, he said those numbers are definitely on the rise.

“One thing we ask people to do is talk to people who might be vulnerable, young people or the older generation, who might be vulnerable to these scams,” said Leslie. “Education is the key here.”

He points to a new scam to appear in recent months targeting people looking for work. The potential victim is offered a job, and following a lengthy email correspondence process, they are asked to disclose their financial information.

“A direct deposit is placed in their account and all of a sudden they’ve got $3,500 or something like that,” said Leslie, adding the victim is then asked to transfer the money back to the fraudulent employer.

“What is happening is the funds that were put into their account are fraudulent, and because they have breached the bank’s policy in regards to disclosure of their personal information they’re out that money.”

In recognition of Fraud Prevention Month in March, a campaign was started in 2004 to encourage Canadians to recognize and report fraud, Saanich Police have compiled a list of tips to protect yourself from some of the most common frauds.

  • Be extra cautious about calls, emails etc from the Canada Revenue Agency, especially at this time of the year. The CRA will not threaten to arrest you or ask you to divulge personal information, financial information or ask you to pay them in gift cards, prepaid credit cards or Bitcoin.
  • Don’t be fooled by the promise of a valuable prize in return for a low-cost purchase.
  • Be aware of calls, emails or mailings offering international bonds or lottery tickets, a portion of a foreign dignitary’s bank account, free vacations, credit repair or schemes with unlimited income potential.
  • Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone, delete the email or close your Internet connection.
  • Be aware of “job offers” that have you receiving funds into your bank account and then directing those funds to company representative.
  • Don’t purchase a product or service without carefully checking out the product, service and company.
  • Don’t be afraid to request further documentation from the caller so you can verify the validity of the company.
  • Don’t disclose personal information about your finances, bank accounts, credit cards, social insurance and driver’s license numbers to any business that can’t prove it is legitimate.
  • Shred unwanted personal information such as bank statements, credit card bills, unwanted receipts, cheques, pre-approved credit applications and old tax returns.

“Bank or credit card companies aren’t going to ask for your personal information over the phone,” said Leslie, adding legitimate companies or agencies will not ask for payment in Bitcoin or gift cards.

He points out information on common scams and ways to protect yourself can be found at www.antifraudcentre.ca.

Anyone with information that may help locate or identify the people responsible for these crimes is asked to call Saanich Police at 250-475-4321, or to remain anonymous call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS(8477).

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