Tuesday, December 03, 2019

"Send us your money and everything will be just fine"

I'm very glad to see that Canadian authorities are taking these scams seriously:
A Burnaby, B.C., man has been identified as a suspect in an RCMP investigation into organized crime groups;accused of scamming Canadians by posing as Canada Revenue Agency officers,demanding payment through cash and gift cards.  ...According to the lawsuit, the RCMP's federal Serious and Organized Crime Division launched the investigation into Xue in June. The probe is not limited to the CRA scam, but also includes so-called "technical support scams" in which people pose as "RCMP, software company employees or bank investigators who would contact unsuspecting individuals and demand money be sent in the form of cash or gift cards to various retail mailboxes in Ontario and British Columbia."
Like everyone these days, I have had several phone calls from scammers.  One was from "Sgt (somebody) from Canada Customs" and I just said "F*ck off" and hung up.  
Another one was much more plausible.  My phone rang and someone said, "This is Visa calling.  Did you just put through a charge on your visa account for $656 for a mattress in Florida?" Perfectly plausible and I have had real calls before from credit card companies to confirm odd purchases.
So of course, I said "No" and then they said "Fine, we will just cancel the charge.  Can you give us your card number just to confirm the cancellation?"
So I said "You should already have the card number because you called me"  
And they hung up.  Then I found out this is a known scam to get card numbers out of people.  I called Visa to report the scam and give them the phone number that they had called from.
My husband had an odd experience last Christmas, when he got an email supposedly from an old friend who said she needed some financial help so could he get some Google gift cards and then give her the number on the card so she could cash them.
I said to my husband "That doesn't sound right -- if she needs money, we should just be able to mail her a cheque".  So we looked it up and sure enough, a scam.  The scammers hack into someone's email and then send this message to all of their contacts.
There have been a number of sad stories lately about people scammed into buying Google cards -- here's another recent Ontario incident:
Julia-Shea Baker, a 23-year-old server, lost $4,000 to the "SIN scam," a new version of the Canada Revenue Agency fraudulent act that's been used for years to dupe people out of their money.
It all started two weeks ago when Baker got a terrifying call from Service Canada telling her that her social insurance number had been compromised. The caller identified himself as RCMP investigator Steve Rogers. . . .
He instructed her to drive to grocery stores and pharmacies across Cornwall to buy up Google Play gift cards, all the while staying on the line to make sure she did what she was told.
After several purchases, her debit card was declined, so the caller told her to go to her bank and withdraw all the cash she had left to buy more gift cards. When she'd done that, he ordered Baker to call the bank to increase her credit limit, then buy yet more gift cards.
"This went on for four and a half hours," Baker said. In that time, she spent $4,000 to buy 35 gift cards. The whole time, the caller stayed on the line, carefully taking note of the gift card numbers and codes.
Baker said she broke down in tears several times during the ordeal, but the man on the phone kept reiterating she couldn't tell anyone what was going on, and if she did, she could be implicated in the investigation.
He told her that her messages and conversations were being monitored.
"You're not being physically held hostage or held for ransom, but it feels that way. It feels like your freedom is on the line," she said.
I do believe that stores should have a policy that they will NOT sell Google or ITune cards to people who are on their phone during the purchase -- that seems to be the tip-off that the people are being scammed.

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