A Victoria man is out $40,000 after falling victim to a cheque cash scam that has resurfaced in the city.
The victim saw an ad in a local newspaper in which a company called DSC Capital claimed to offer loans of $45,000.
After the victim called the number and left a message, someone called him back asking for his personal information including his social insurance number, which the victim provided.
As part of the scam, the victim was sent a fake cheque for $18,000, which he then cashed.
The fraudster then asked the victim to wire transfer $5,000 to cover the insurance of the loan. This happened roughly five times in the span of a month in amounts ranging from $5,000 to $10,000 to different bank accounts in November.
“Just because a cheque goes to the bank and you get money, doesn’t mean it’s actually cashed, which is what happened to this gentleman,” said Const. Cody Lapierre with the Victoria Police Department. “The whole scam really revolved around cheques getting sent to him and him cashing the cheques and sending money back to different accounts.”
The victim came forward to police in January after he realized it was a scam.
“He was really embarrassed about it and I think a lot of people don’t come forward because they’re embarrassed,” said Lapierre, adding this is the most amount of money he’s seen a victim from a scam. “I felt horrible for the gentleman. He’s on a pension and now he’s responsible for the money that he’s lost.”
Victoria police are now investigating, but Lapierre said it’s difficult to track wire transfers, especially if money gets moved off shore.
According to Const. Matt Rutherford with Victoria police, scams are happening more often in the community than what’s being reported.
“They feel very victimized and they’re maybe embarrassed for falling victim to something so they don’t report it to us,” he said, noting many scams are done through electronic communication such as email, text message or phone calls.“If the money doesn’t mean anything to them then they don’t report it.”
Last year, there was roughly $2 million in losses that were reported to Victoria police.
The VicPD is trying to reduce the number of locals who fall victim to scams by educating people as part of fraud prevention month.
The top scam on its radar continues to be the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam, which first surfaced last August in Victoria and continues to claim victims.
Victims of the scam typically receive a phone call from an angry caller, claiming to represent the CRA and that taxes are owed. The caller leaves voicemails demanding potential victims call them back or face immediate criminal sanctions for unpaid or fraudulently filed taxes.
Other common scams in Victoria are the charity and giving scams, such as the grandson scam, in which someone will call an elderly victim pretending to be a niece or grandchild injured or in jail. They request money and the victim sends cash through money transfer.
Lottery scams, in which victims receive an email or call claiming they won the lottery but asking for money up front to claim the prize, is also a problem.
Heading into the spring, gutter and re-pavement scams, where people offer to repave a driveway or unclog a gutter and ask for money upfront and never return to do the work, tend to pop up as well.
But there are ways to protect the city’s most vulnerable.
Rutherford said never offer money up front and checking the URLs of websites linked in emails can help prevent people from falling victim to scams.
“We want to encourage people to look out for their elderly neighbours or relatives,” Rutherford said. “A lot of times, elderly people are more susceptible to these scams because maybe they don’t have any family around or aren’t close with anyone. Just have those conversations with your neighbours.”