Fraudsters out in force in the new year: RCMP

Once again, the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are warning residents to be on the watch for scammers out to separate people from their money

Once again, the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP are warning residents to be on the watch for scammers out to separate people from their money, some in obvious ways, others in more sneaky fashion.

The new year started out with a report from a local school where a computer was infected with a virus called “Crypto Wall Extortion.”

“They were told they had to pay US$700 in exchange for the key to unlock their data,” RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Krista Hobday said. “An online open source search showed that the virus is commonly deployed via an attachment of a ‘resumé’ where once the user clicks on it, it extracts the virus. There is nothing the user can do except format it.”

Similar ransomware viruses have cost users around the world tens of millions of dollars in recent years.

A fraudulent company by the name of IDNS Canada (Internet Domain Name Services) is preying on computer users, including at least one in the region, who received a fake request to renew her website name.

“The complainant reported that she does own an Internet domain name and knew it was up for renewal,” Hobday related. “She sent a cheque to the noted company only to receive the correct invoice for the domain name at a later date. Research on the described company by the complainant found it to be a fake company, and it is reported under numerous sites (Better Business Bureau, Domain People Scam websites).”

Tax scams always show up this time of year, and 2016 is no exception. One “repeat customer” who frequently reports scam attempts has once again been contacted by someone posing as a representative for the Canada Revenue Agency.

“This time it is by email, and the essence of the fraud is this: the posing CRA agent states that an email transfer has been sent to them and they are to collect their money by clicking on the listed link,” Hobday explained. “The link takes you to an online CRA tax refund form which asks for your credit card information. Don’t do it!”

Another similar scam features someone also posing as a CRA agent and threatening the victim, sometimes making repeated calls to the same person — something the real CRA would never do.

“The calls are escalating and threatening,” Hobday said. “The fake CRA agent is threatening to launch a lawsuit against the taxpayer if they don’t send money the CRA believes it is owed. We are hoping that the average taxpayer knows that the legitimate CRA would never call them and act in this manner and they don’t resolve their debts owed to them by way of a lawsuit; just ask anyone who has ever owed them money.

“If you receive a call from someone claiming to represent the CRA and informing you that you owe money, it is recommended that you hang up and call your local CRA office and speak to a representative.”

Yet another scam actually invokes the United Nations and the FBI. A resident brought this email to the attention of the RCMP: “We bring to your notice that your email address has been in our database of scammed victims for a long time, Due to complaints by individuals and Governmental agencies, an emergency meeting was held at the United Nation Building in New York with the general secretary of the United Nation Ban Ki-moon and the Heads of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (F.B.I) and the Cyber Crime Division…” The missive goes on to inform the recipient that he owes $1.5 million.

“Some scams are this obvious, some are more subtle,” Hobday said. “At the end of the day, the message is the same. If it sounds too good to be true, then it is. If you think you are the potential target of a scam, report it.”

For more information about scams or to report one, visit www.antifraudcentre.ca or call 1-888-495-8501.

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