“Scams continue to be a real issue here on the Sunshine Coast,” says Cst Harrison Mohr, Sunshine Coast RCMP Media Relations Officer.
“The number of scam victims on the Sunshine Coast is likely higher than our records show, as some people may not even realize that they were targeted by fraudsters, while others may feel embarrassed that they ‘fell’ for it.”
The Council of Senior Citizens’ Organizations of BC (COSCO) recently held a workshop in Gibsons on how to avoid frauds and scams. Instructor Bruce Anderson said that it is one of the most highly requested of COSCO’s workshops.
COSCO contends that seniors are especially vulnerable to scams because they may live alone, be trusting, and be grateful to talk to someone, but in fact people of any age can fall victim to fraudsters.
“The fraudsters do what they do because they’re good at it. Really good at it,” said Cst Mohr. “They know how to be very convincing.”
Common scams on the Sunshine Coast include the grandparent scam, the Canada Revenue Agency scam and the computer-repair scam:
• In the grandparent scam somebody phones an elderly person, posing as one of their grandchildren who is in trouble. Often the caller says that they have been arrested in another province or country and need money for bail or a lawyer. Sometimes a second person pretending to be the caller’s lawyer will be put on the phone to make the story sound more convincing.
• In the Canada Revenue Agency scam a caller says they are calling from the CRA, and the victim is behind on their taxes. If they don’t pay immediately they will be arrested. A variety of payment methods are offered, but frequently the victim is told to purchase iTunes gift cards, which can then be redeemed to cover their debt.
• The computer-repair scam is carried out by phone or email. A fraudster claiming to be from a major company such as Microsoft or Dell tells the victim that there are viruses on their computer, or that their computer needs maintenance. The fraudster then asks for information which allows their computer to be accessed remotely. Personal information found on the victim’s computer can be used to access online banking service and withdraw money.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre recorded over 14,000 cases of identity fraud and theft in 2014, with total losses over $14 million. They believe that this represents less than five per cent of the actual number of victims, as many people do not report being swindled.
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