Phone scammers pretending to be police
Crime: Crooks claiming to be investigating fraud
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Mar 05, 2014 03:33 pm
Foothills residents are urged to be wary of a new telephone scam involving people claiming to be police officers investigating cases of fraud.
Okotoks RCMP Sgt. Donna Rorison said they have received a number of complaints from people reporting they received phone calls from an individual claiming to be a police officer.
People are asked to confirm personal information, including social insurance numbers, or are told money needs to be paid to prevent fraud charges being laid. In some cases, she said people have been told to send pre-paid credit cards or gift cards for businesses.
“They’re asking for a social insurance number or advising that money is required to be paid in order to stop the police from arresting them,” said Rorison.
In some of the calls, the man has identified himself as a Const. Miller from a provincial justice department.
Rorison said the calls have come from a 613 area code in Ontario. If the calls aren’t answered, Rorison said voicemail messages with a return phone number are left instructing the people to call. When someone calls back, the crooks behind the scam will answer saying they are with a justice department.
Rorison said this makes people think the phone calls are legitimate.
She said people often fall victim to the scam because they fear being stuck with a fine or more severe penalty.
“Sometimes people don’t work it all through, they just get worried about it, especially this time of year because if they didn’t pay this $200 fine it’s going to go on their taxes,” she said.
Rorison said police will never phone people asking for personal information and they do not ask for money.
“The dead give-away on that is no department of justice is going to take a Home Depot cash loaded credit card in payment of some debt that you owe on a fraud charge,” she said.
Police are still seeing a number of instances of the common relative scam, where someone, often seniors, receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a relative in distress needing money.
“They’re saying this is so-and-so granny, I’m stuck in a Mexican prison or I need some help, I’ve had an accident, I’m in big trouble I can’t get a hold of mom or dad,” said Rorison.
She said these types of phone calls often aren’t reported and she is asking anyone who may have received this type of phone call to report it. She said it gives law-enforcement a record of fraud calls.
“We may not be able to do anything about it but we still want to know about it because we want to know if it’s happening in our area and you might get targeted again,” she said.
Anyone who may have received a suspicious phone call similar to these or other cases is encouraged to call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or visit www.antifraudcentre.ca.