New scams, targeting seniors on the rise

The B.C. RCMP, British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC), Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and municipal police are warning the public about two new scams. A new variation on the telephone extortion scam, and an emerging trend where fraudsters use social media and online dating sites to lure B.C. residents and seniors into crypto-asset scams.

Fraudsters adapt their techniques to capitalize on the latest trends and technologies, and will use various methods to lure their targets into falling for their scams. In the case of the newest telephone extortion scam, you may receive an automated phone call pretending to be from a government agency, police or a business asking you to dial 1 to speak with an officer or an agent. For instance, they may claim to be calling from Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and will relay a message that your parcel was intercepted by Canada Post containing illegal substances.

Crypto investment scams have also been on the rise. In fact, in the first eight months of 2021, British Columbians reported losses of $3.5 million from crypto investment scams – more than triple the amount lost last year, which was just over $1 million, according to CAFC data. On average, only five per cent of fraud victims report such incidents to authorities.

In the case of crypto investment scams, older adults may be targeted by fraudsters approached via dating apps or other social media sites. After developing an online relationship, the fraudster brings up an “investment opportunity” and convinces the person to make an initial payment. The fraudster is often able to convince victims to continue investing, which can lead to substantial losses. Fraudsters might also research their potential victims online, which includes reviewing their social media posts, in order to come up with tailored strategy for each victim to maximize their chances of success.

As fraudsters adapt their techniques to capitalize on the latest trends and technologies, it is important to stay vigilant, and to support others to do the same.

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of cybercrime or fraud should report it to their local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. If you are not a victim, but have been targeted, consider reporting it to the CAFC anyway.

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