A Burnaby man who thought he had won big is now warning others about a scam that preys on people eager to win a prize.
How the scam works is people are told they’ve won a prize, but they need to pay a “tax” first before receiving their winnings. Police say you can’t win a contest you don’t enter and you don’t pay taxes on lottery winnings.
“I just walked right into it,” said “Tom” (not his real name), who contacted the NOW after reading a February 2021 story about a Burnaby man being charged in connection with a similar scam. The victim said he got an email about a contest connected to a charity raffle that turned out to be fake. “It didn’t cost me much, but I feel stupid for falling for it. I needed some good news and they got me.
In February, a 27-year-old Burnaby resident was charged in connection with a Publishers Clearing House scam that crossed over multiple jurisdictions, including Coquitlam.
RCMP received a complaint on Nov. 4, 2019 from one of four alleged victims in a multi-jurisdictional Publisher Clearing House Scam.
“Scammers target citizens with high-pressure scare tactics,” said Const. Deanna Law with Coquitlam RCMP, in a news release. “We need to educate our community in order to stop these crimes. The best defence is to hang up, talk to a trusted friend and verify.”
Coquitlam RCMP’s Economic Crime Unit took over the file and eventually seized multiple cell phones, a laptop and more $20,000 in cash.
The Burnaby man was charged with four counts of fraud over $5,000.
Here are some other common scams used by fraudsters:
- The bank security scam is number 1 on the Coquitlam RCMP’s top 5 most concerning scams. Best defence: Hang up and verify. You will never be able to ‘help’ a real bank, or be able to pay your bank bills, with gift cards.
- Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) Scam: You get a call from the ‘CRA’ (or any government agency) saying you owe tax and you’ll be arrested if you don’t send money right now, usually using a cryptocurrency (Bitcoin) machine. Best defence: Hang up. You can’t be arrested by CRA or any other government agency for debt. Nor can you pay government bills with Bitcoin.
- Wallet theft fraud: Leaving your wallet or purse in your car, your shopping cart, or your locker creates an opportunity for scammers. They will quickly use your credit cards to rack up purchases before you realize they’re missing. Best defence: Never leave your wallet or purse in your car or unattended. Carry only the cards you need, and never carry your SIN card.
- Online job scam: You’ve posted a resume online. Now, a ‘boss’ wants you to deposit a large cheque, keep a ‘commission’, and send the bulk to the ‘boss.’ When the cheque bounces days later, you owe the bank the whole cheque. Best defence: Never deposit a cheque on behalf of another person.
- Romance Scams: Fraudsters will gain the trust of the victim by carrying on a relationship over a period of time. This can include displays of affection, such as, sending gifts, flowers and tokens to prove that their feelings are genuine. In many cases, the fraudster will claim to be professional business people or military personnel that are travelling or stationed abroad. Once trust is gained, fraudsters will begin to ask for financial assistance for reasons like urgent situations (e.g. a sick family member or to complete a business transaction) or to return to the country (e.g. plane ticket, lawyer fees, or duty & taxes).
For more information on evolving scams, or to report any type of fraudulent activity, call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.
If you are unsure about a call or email that, you have received or have lost money to a scam, call your local police.