To some, holiday season also means scam season, and police are warning residents of the Cowichan Valley to be aware of potential con artists who might be coming out of the woodwork. According to Cpl. Krista Hobday of the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP, one scam currently making the rounds is the "Personal Shopper ruse," as exemplified by a company called JK Accessories Ltd.
"They have accessed Craigslist to offer employment for an individual to act as a personal shopper," Hobday explained. "The company sends the new employee a cheque for $2,000 and asks them to wire transfer $1,700 via a moneygram to someone at a location in the States or elsewhere. The most recent one was Miami, Florida. The employee gets to keep $300. Unfortunately the cheque is not authentic and the victim’s bank account is now out $2,000."
Another familiar scam that continues to resurface is one where a caller poses as a nephew, niece or grandchild who needs assistance.
"They may also portray themselves as legal counsel for this individual and state that they are in jail and need money right away," Hobday related. "They have been known to use obituaries to obtain names and locations in an attempt to convince the victim that they are who they say they are. They, too, ask that the money be wired to them. They ask the victim to keep it a secret between them as they don’t want mom and dad to find out."
Anyone who receives unsolicited phone calls, emails or letters asking for money should contact the police or ask around before committing to sending any funds.
Anyone with information about these and similar scams should contact the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522.