British Columbia

Top 10 avoidable scams

The annual list of the Top 10 scams that consumers can avoid has just been released by the Vancouver Police Department, and it includes a few new ones and few that have been around for a while.

New fake computer virus scam has arrived in Canada

Police warn that ads online offering work as a 'secret' or 'mystery' shopper are often scams. (BBB)

The Vancouver Police Department and the Better Business Bureau of B.C. have released their annual list of the Top 10 scams that consumers can avoid, and it includes a few new ones and few old cons that have been around for a while.

The computer virus scam

  • This is a relatively new scam in Canada that has been active in the U.K. for a number of years, say police.
  • The victim gets a phone call from a major computer company offering to fix a virus on the victim's computer. Once the victim logs on to a website, the screen goes black and the scammer, who is often based in India, charges the victim $150 to make the computer work again.
  • Police recommend simply hanging up on the caller and avoiding the websites they recommend.
  • Additional tips

The fake lottery scam

  • The victim, who is often elderly, is sent an email saying they have won a lottery, but they are told they need to send money before they can claim their prize. The lottery is a fake and the money is lost forever.
  • Police recommend warning elderly friends and relatives about this common scam.
  • Additional tips
  • Example   

Concert or sports ticket reselling scam

  • The victim pays cash for an authentic ticket to a concert or sporting event from a reseller who was advertising online.
  • When the victim tries to use the ticket to enter the event they are denied entry because the ticket has been bought with a stolen credit card by the fraudster, and cancelled by the original company once they discover the fraud.
  • Police recommend only buying tickets from established ticket resellers and only to using a credit card to buy them so you can cancel the payment if the tickets are invalid.
  • Additional tips

The grandson in trouble overseas

  • Type 1 - The victim, often an elderly person, gets a call from some saying they are their grandson or another family member, and they are in trouble overseas and desperately need money to get home. The scammer also tells the victim to wire them the money, but not to tell anyone, because they want to keep the situation secret.
  • But victim later discovers the grandchild is fine and was never in trouble, and it was just an imposter who got their phone number by digging through their garbage.
  • Type 2 - The scammer gains access to the victim's email or Facebook account and sends a distress email to all of the victim's email contacts.
  • The email states that the victim is in distress in a foreign country and to keep the information confidential. As in the first type, the victim is asked to wire money to the foreign country, later discovering their friend was never in trouble.
  • Police recommend you don't put personal information in the garbage and protect your passwords online.
  • Additional tips

Fake property rental

  • In this scam the victim appears to find a great deal on a rental property and meets with the landlord online or in a coffee shop to close the deal.
  • After paying a damage deposit in cash or by wire service, when the victim tries to move in, they discover the landlord was a fake and somebody else might even be living in the home.
  • Police recommend you inspect all property in person and ask the landlord for photo identification, and pay with a post-dated personal cheque.
  • Additional tips
  • Example      

Counterfeit currency used to buy electronics online

  • In this scam the victim posts an ad online to sell an item, often a popular valuable electronic item.
  • But the scammer pays for it with counterfeit currency and takes off before the victim notices the fraud.
  • Police say watch out for fake money when selling electronic items such as iPhones, Xboxes or PlayStations, and know at least three security features to ensure bills are not fake.
  • How to detect a counterfeit bill 
  • Additional tips

The secret shopper scam

  • The victim gets a job from an online ad to be a mystery or secret shopper. The fake employer sends them a bank cheque and asks them to cash it, keep some for themselves and wire the rest back to test out a service such as Western Union.
  • But when the bank determines the cheque was a fake, the victim is charged for the money they sent the scammer.
  • Police say whenever you are asked by a stranger to wire money based on a cheque deposit, it is normally a scam
  • Additional tips 
  • Example

The Nigerian Scam

  • This well-known scam is also known as the 419 scam after Section 419 of the Nigerian Penal Code that prohibits this activity. The victim gets a letter from an official in a foreign country asking for help getting a large amount of money out their country in exchange for a share of the loot.
  • The victim wires money to the scammer, but they get nothing in return.
  • Police warn that all advanced fee requests are scams and if you receive a letter in the mail or via fax, simply ignore it
  • Additional tips 
  • Example 

Fake bank security scam

  • The victim gets an email that appears to be from their bank asking them to open an attachment and enter their bank information in order to protect or verify their account. But the message is a clever fake and the scammer uses the information to access the victim's bank accounts.
  • Police warn no bank will email you regarding security issues and any requests should be deleted and ignored.
  • Additional tips 
  • Example 

The fake charity collector, home or fire inspector

  • In this scam, someone knocks on the victim's door claiming to be collecting for a charity or claiming to be a fire or building inspector. The victim feels pressured and donates or pays the person with cash.
  • Police say real charities and inspectors don't collect money door to door and you should lock the door and call police if anyone suspicious comes knocking asking for money.
  • Additional tips