Red Deer, Alberta – A few seasonal scams have recently reared their ugly heads in Red Deer in the past week, along with a new, personalized email scam that uses victim’s names and the names of their employers to try to part good citizens with their hard-earned money. Red Deer RCMP have a lot of tips to avoid being defrauded, but it boils down to one basic piece of advice that can be applied to any scam – never give money or personal information to someone who has approached you asking for it, until you have done your homework! If the person or business or charity approaching you is legitimate, they won’t mind when you insist on taking the time to think about it or to double-check their story.
New email scam:
In this fraud, victims receive an email that appears to be from their employer or a leader in a volunteer organization the victim is involved with. The scammer uses the victim’s name and may name others in the organization to gain the victim’s trust. The scammer asks the victim to “do them a favour” and pay an invoice or buy gift cards or bitcoin, and promises to reimburse them. Because the email appears to come from someone they know, victims may be more likely to ignore red flags such as an employer asking them to do something inappropriate.
Fake Gold scam:
This annual scam has resurfaced in Red Deer with a vengeance, with multiple reports in the past few days. Scammers approach people in parking lots and try to sell them fake gold jewellery, usually claiming they are down on their luck and need to sell the jewellery in order to get back home. A variation of this scam also involves attempts to sell jewellery in parking lots. In this version, scammers are aggressive in putting their jewellery on victims; during that physical contact, the scammers steal the jewellery the victims were originally wearing. These fraudsters are usually aggressive and fast-talking. Sometimes they have children with them.
Red Deer RCMP have received dozens of calls in the last few days from people about lottery scams. The most recent scam flooding Red Deer phone lines is using the name of a legitimate and well-known charitable organization and informing victims they’ve won a vehicle or a large cash prize. The victim is then asked for a delivery fee or a fee to claim the prize. No legitimate lottery ever charges a fee to claim a prize. Hang up the phone! When in doubt, call the organization yourself to see if they are running a lottery. These scammers are reportedly being extremely aggressive.
Construction/ paving scam:
Seasonal paving scams typically pop up in the spring and summer, and involve scammers making unsolicited appearances at residences trying to offer a paving job. The scammers claim they have extra material from another job they just finished nearby. They offer to do the paving at a reduced price because the resident will be doing them a favour by allowing them to use the left over product; the paving is then either left incomplete, or completed very badly, and attempts to locate the paving company or rep are unsuccessful.
Remember these tips:
- Scammers can find out certain information about you just by going through your recycling. Shred paperwork that shares information about where you bank or who your service providers are before putting it in recycling.
- Telephone scammers are skilled at using cleverly worded questions that prompt victims to inadvertently give out information the scammer can then use to create trust.
- No legitimate government agency or business will demand payment in gift cards, untraceable wire transfers, bitcoin or prepaid credit cards. Only scammers use untraceable payment methods.
- If you receive a call from someone claiming you owe money, independently verify the information by hanging up, looking up Canada Revenue Agency (or the appropriate agency) and calling them directly. Do not call back to a number given out by the person calling you.
- By using “number spoofing,” scammers can make it look like their call is coming from a local number or the number of a business or agency, thus misleading you as to where they are located. Don’t trust your call display – double check by looking up the number and calling the organization directly.
- Never give your personal or banking information out over the phone unless you initiated the call and it is an established, credible organization you know you can trust.
- Don’t give in to pressure to act immediately, whether the caller is claiming you owe money, offering a deal, asking for a donation or saying you’ve won something – any legitimate business or agency will give you time to think.
- No lottery demands a payment up front before you can claim your prize.
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is. Ask questions, demand proof.
Arm yourself and the vulnerable people in your life by learning how to recognize and protect yourself from fraud. If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Recognize it, report it, and stop it.
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Corporal Karyn Kay
Red Deer RCMP