Last year’s spike in scams has cost victims more than $664,000, according to new statistics from Sidney/North Saanich RCMP.
According to the detachment’s 2021 year-end report, the number of frauds that left victims with a financial loss rose by 48 per cent between 2020 and 2021 to 49, up from 33.
“Victims reported losses of $664,021 resulting in a 73 per cent (loss) increase over 2020,” reads the year-end report.
Victims average 61 years in age with fraudsters often claiming to be federal agencies such as Revenue Canada and even local RCMP.
Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley said that many reasons account for these increases. “But as a community, we need greater awareness and to really get smart on scams,” he said. “In many cases, fraud-scams are preventable crimes.” Within this context, the local detachment will work with North Saanich, Sidney and the community to raise awareness about scams and help residents protect themselves, he said. The campaign will coincide with a campaign designating March as anti-fraud prevention month.
The report identifies three leading examples of scams. The so-called Google Play Cards sees fraudsters claiming to be friends or bosses of their victims, whom they ask to purchase gift cards and send activation codes with the money paid back later. Once the codes are sent, money cannot be recovered.
“In some cases, (victims) will receive a call by someone claiming to be from the bank, that their credit card was fraudulently used and if they purchase Google Play cards, the bank will be able to move the money over to the compromised credit card,” reads the report.
The Computer Fix scam sees a Microsoft security pop-up window appear on computer screens claiming that it needs to be fixed to avoid damage or the loss of banking information. Victims then receive a number to call with instructions designed to give fraudsters access. Fraudsters in turn tell their victims that they would incur minimal credit card charges. Victims later discover that charges are substantially higher, reads the report.
The Purchase Scams sees victims transfer money to purchase an item from an online ad but the seller is not legitimate. Dog breeder scams are also common.
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