A local man says he’s fallen victim to a scam.
“They contacted me on my computer to say that Microsoft had detected a Zeus virus and if I called a certain number they would be able to clean it up for me. It wound up costing me several hundred dollars and I’ve since found out that the whole thing was a scam,” says Gordon Kellet.
RCMP Staff Sgt. Svend Nielsen says they get calls fairly common.
“We do receive fairly regular calls by people who have been approached more so than actually have been affected. Those happen fairly regularly every week.”
It’s difficult to do anything from a criminal investigation point, says Nielsen.
“A lot of the time these incidents are actually international. So the CRA calls, the computer calls, the virus calls are typically international,” he says, adding that it’s very difficult to find the person who committed the offence.
Unless the country of origin is prepared to help or assist the RCMP, it’s very difficult to assist further, he says.
“Anytime [when] they get a phone call from someone that they get a question in their mind that maybe ‘this isn’t right,’ it probably isn’t. The best thing they can do is to stop the phone call. If they’re comfortable just talking with family members, especially if they’re an elderly person, talk to a family member first. Get some advice through them. At the end of the day, if they’re really concerned about it or if they provide any information, they can reach out to us. People can educate themselves by going to websites such as phone busters and even the Canadian Revenue Agency has information on their website in regards to these types of incidences.”
People should be aware that the majority of phone calls from a lot of different companies aren’t legitimate phone calls, he says. If they’re in question, get a name or number so you can call them back and discuss it with a family member, with a friend or RCMP.
“Try not to follow through with those individuals that are requesting your credit card or debit card information over the phone or over the computer unless you are familiar with the website or familiar with the person that you’re talking to.”
The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker (self-reported) shows several people in Williams Lake area have also fallen victim to scams in the past year for amounts of $350 (fake invoice) and $500 (online purchase).
According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), there were 5,448 complaints and 2,361 at a dollar loss of $3,245,341.01 in 2017 resulting from Service Scams (such as a Microsoft/Windows Technician). However, it’s believed that fewer than five per cent of victims file a report with the CAFC regarding Mass Marketing Fraud. The CAFC gets the most complaints about extortion (14,551) followed by phishing (10,330). The greatest dollar loss is due to wire fraud ($20,716,901.77) followed by romance ($19,606,980.23) and Investments ($14,314,157.26)
“Scammers call and claim to be a representative from a well‐known tech company such as Microsoft or Windows. The scammers will claim that the victim’s computer is sending out viruses or has been hacked and must be serviced. The scammer will remotely access the victim’s computer and may run programs or alter settings. The scammer will advise that a fee is required for this service and request payment by credit card or money service business. In certain cases, the scammer will transfer funds from the victim’s computer through a money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram,” according to the CAFC.
When it comes to service scams, they warn people not to provide personal information on incoming phone calls, to verify the caller, want to let people know Microsoft and other well-known companies will not conduct proactive outbound calls for computer repair, to request a call back number and to never provide unsolicited callers remote access to your computer.
People who fall victim to fraud are asked to gather all information pertaining to the fraud, report the incident to local law enforcement, contact the CAFC (1-888-495-8501), report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent and report it to the online service the fraud took place through (i.e. Facebook, eBay, Kijiji or dating site) if applicable. Victims should also place flags on all their accounts and report to both Credit Bureau’s (Equifax and TransUnion).