Cpl. Andres Sanchez and Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley of the Sidney / North Saanich RCMP joins North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr and Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith outside the detachment to raise awareness about the rising number of scams on the Saanich Peninsula. March is Fraud Prevention Month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Cpl. Andres Sanchez and Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley of the Sidney / North Saanich RCMP joins North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr and Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith outside the detachment to raise awareness about the rising number of scams on the Saanich Peninsula. March is Fraud Prevention Month. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)

Sophisticated scammers targeting North Saanich and Sidney: RCMP

Mayors Geoff Orr and Cliff McNeil-Smith concerned about regional spike in scams

Local police and politicians are concerned about a rise in scams in North Saanich and Sidney.

“Our communities are being targeted by sophisticated scammers, including those who gather personal information from our social media accounts and other sources to create very realistic appeals for money or gift cards,” said Sidney/North Saanich RCMP Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley in a release.

The detachment has launched a public awareness campaign coinciding with Fraud Prevention Month in March.

“Fraud looks very different than it did in the past,” he added. “But despite the increasing sophistication, residents can prevent this crime by learning how to identify fraudulent behaviour and turn away would-be scammers.“

Conley hopes the campaign serves as a wake up call to the community.

RELATED: Fraud losses in Sidney, North Saanich rose by 73 per cent in 2021

Figures released last month show reported losses due to scams rose by 73 per cent to $664,021 in the detachment’s jurisdiction. Overall, the number of victims reporting financial losses due to fraud in 2021 rose by 48 per cent and the numbers are trending upward in 2022.

Both North Saanich Mayor Geoff Orr and Sidney Mayor Cliff McNeil-Smith expressed concern about this development.

“The rise in fraudulent behaviour is extremely concerning, particularly as these scams often target folks by exploiting their emotional and situational vulnerabilities,” Orr said in a release. “I am grateful that the local RCMP continues to raise awareness about this manipulative and deplorable criminal activity.”

McNeil-Smith agreed with efforts to give the issue a larger public profile.

“It is difficult to see that the people of Sidney and North Saanich are losing significant amounts of money each year to scammers that prey on their trust and goodwill,” he said.“It is important that we begin talking more about this prevalent issue so community members are better prepared to spot and avoid scams.”


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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com

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