Don’t be afraid to say no to scammers asking for money – whether they want Bitcoin or cash in the mail, say Saanich police.
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, nearly 40,000 Canadians fell victim to frauds and lost just over $104 million collectively – COVID-19-related scams alone resulted in the loss of some $7 million since March 6.
Among the fraud attempts recently reported to the Saanich police, the most common was unsolicited calls that show a familiar business name, government agency or associated phone number on the caller ID, according to Const. Markus Anastasiades, public information officer. “The fraudsters work quickly by telling their victims that the matter is urgent” and they must send funds to be sent through a bank, wire transfer, or a Bitcoin machine.
Another recent fraud trend involves victims being asked to send money via courier to addresses both in Canada and abroad.
“These non-traditional ways of sending money often indicate a scam,” Anastasiades said. “If you send money outside of Canada or put it in a Bitcoin machine, the money is gone for good and there is very little police can investigate.”
Police recommend being wary of callers urgently requesting money – it’s a “major red flag.” In these situations, police say to hang up, ignore any other calls from the number, don’t hesitate to say “no,” don’t respond impulsively and speak with friends or family about the incident to see if they have advice.
Other tips from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre include asking the caller to send the information in writing, being wary of pleas that tug at the heartstrings, verifying the caller is legitimately from the organization they say you’re dealing with and avoiding giving out any personal information.
Anyone who believes they have been targeted by a scammer can report it directly to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or by phone at 1-888-495-8501, and those who’ve lost money in a fraud should call their local police to report it. To reach the Saanich Police Department, call 250-475-4321.