The Nanaimo RCMP and other Vancouver Island jurisdictions are warning the public about a spike in scam phone calls.
The Nanaimo RCMP detachment alone has received upwards of 50 complaint calls a day for the past month.
According to police, several people have fallen victim to the scam and lost several thousand dollars. In one instance, an international student received a phone call from someone claiming to work for the Canada Revenue Agency. The victim initially thought it was a scam until the call was transferred to an “agent” who spoke with a “Canadian accent.” Only then did the victim think it was legitimate. The caller convinced the student his social insurance number had been compromised and unless he provided $4,500, he would be arrested. The victim transferred the money to a Bitcoin ATM, then scanned the bar code and sent the money to a Bitcoin account.
In another incident, a call was received from a man purporting to work for Service Canada who told the victim his SIN had also been compromised and if $750 was not transferred immediately he would be arrested. A second phone call was received, which appeared to have originated from the Nanaimo RCMP non-emergency line. Shortly thereafter that victim transferred the money into an untraceable Bitcoin account.
“This is very sophisticated scam which uses fear, threats and intimidation to pressure you into providing money or buying Bitcoin or some cases, gift cards,” said Const. Gary O’Brien, Nanaimo RCMP spokesman. “No legitimate government agency or police department would ever ask you to do this. Don’t fall for it. Simply hang up.”
To learn more about scams, visit the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre at www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.