Creston Valley residents continue to be deluged with scams that are designed to relieve them of their money.
“Seniors are especially vulnerable,” said Creston RCMP Cpl. Monty Taylor. “They should be aware that they are often targets.”
Three different computer-related frauds were reported to the police last week, he said.
In one, a Mac owner got a message that the computer’s firewall was out of date and a $500 upgrade, to be provided over the Internet, was needed to protect the system.
Another resident received a pop-up message, purportedly from Florida, that the contents of his computer would be encrypted if he didn’t pay a $250 fee. Despite paying the extortion demand, his computer crashed three days later. When he contacted the company he was told they would refund the payment, but then demanded he send a cheque to an address in India.
A third complaint came from a person who was selling merchandise on a website. The cheque he received for the goods was for more than the selling price and he was instructed to transfer the excess to another bank account. Fortunately, a bank employee warned him of the likelihood he was being targeted in a scam. The cheque turned out to be a fraud.
An Advance reader provided information about yet another recent scam. He was contacted by “Canadian Cash Awards”, apparently operating out of Las Vegas, and told he had won a second place prize of $750,000 and a new Chrysler. To collect his prize he was instructed to send $3,500.74 for “processing, insurance and delivery.”
Creston RCMP suggests people who think they might be confronted with a scam should call police or check the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website, www.antifraudcentre.ca. The site outlines details of popular scams and warning signs to consider.
For those confronted with “prize winnings”, it says:
•Known lottery and sweepstakes companies such as Reader’s Digest, and Publisher’s Clearing House will never request for money up front in order to receive a prize.
•Any fees associated to winnings will never be paid through a money service business such as Western Union, MoneyGram or by loading funds to prepaid credit cards such as Green Dot.
•Any unsolicited phone call advising that you have won a lottery is fake. The only way to participate in any foreign lottery is to go to the country of origin and purchase a ticket in person. A ticket cannot be purchased on your behalf.
•Never give out personal information on the phone, no matter who the caller claims to represent.
About computer service scams, it says:
•Scammers call and pretend to represent a well-known computer based company like Microsoft and claim that the victim’s computer is sending out viruses or has been hacked and must be cleaned. The scammer will remotely gain access to the computer and may run some programs or change some settings. The scammer will then advise that a fee is required for the service of cleaning and request a credit card number to cover the payment. In some cases the scammer will send a transfer from the victims’ computer through a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram. The end result is that the victim pays for a service that was not needed as the computer was never infected.
Another common scam that has hit local residents involves a telephone call from “a family member” who is in urgent need of funds to cover legal or medical expenses. The anti-fraud centre warns:
•Confirm with other relatives the whereabouts of the family member or friend.
•Police, judges or legal entities will never request that money be sent through money service business.
•Never voluntarily give out family member’s names or information to unknown callers.
•Always question urgent requests for money.