Traditional scams continue to flourish during pandemic

Businesses and individuals continue to be targeted by scammers, and so far this year Canadians have lost nearly $16 million to scammers.

Delta police say these traditional scams are flourishing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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DPD has provided an overview for the public to take note of.

Grandparent scam: Two Delta residents were the latest people to be victimized by this scam, losing approximately $2,500 and $3,000 each. In both cases, residents were contacted by someone claiming to represent a grandson who was in jail and needing bail money. In one case, the grandson was allegedly in jail for impaired driving.

“If someone calls you claiming to be a relative in urgent trouble, and they’re asking for money, we recommend you hang up, and contact your relative directly yourself,” said Const. Dustin Classen of the Delta Police Economic & Technical Crime Unit. “These fraudsters always try to convince you to pay immediately, before you have a chance to really assess the situation. Instead, take your time, hang up and call your relative to discuss the matter with them.”

Business email compromised: All business owners and those who deal with finances and accounts for your company should be aware that email addresses can be spoofed. Sometimes requests for payment may come from those fake email addresses. Three of these were just reported to DPD in the last two weeks.

“Be particularly wary if an email is requesting you to change a destination account, or to wire transfer money,” said Classen. “Always verify any such request with a phone call using a number you already have for the company or individual, or ideally verify the request in person or through a video meeting.”

In two cases a wire transfer was stopped before the company lost thousands of dollars, while a third is under investigation.

Romance scam: Typically the scammer reaches out to a potential target online, pretending to be someone they are not, using personal information or photos stolen or obtained elsewhere. The relationship proceeds very quickly. The victim develops strong feelings for the scammer, and is then convinced to send them money to assist them with some urgent problem or crisis.

“If you suspect a friend or relative is the victim of a romance scam, it can be really hard to convince them that their new love interest doesn’t really exist,” said Classsen. “Often times the person being scammed will feel very embarrassed. In a recent file, we were able to assist by helping to prove that the scammer’s persona was fake – a person who didn’t really exist.”

Right now, when people are potentially feeling lonely and isolated during the pandemic, there’s a greater chance that people will fall victim to this type of scam, he added.

“Talking about scams and shining a light on them is the best way to inoculate ourselves against them,” said Classen.

He encourages people to reach out to friends and loved ones, to ensure they’re aware of these and other common scams.

For more information on common scams see the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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