Calgary

Phone fraudsters use fake hang-up to bilk thousands from Calgarians, police warn

Police say a lot of Calgarians have been falling for an old telephone scam with a new twist.

So far in 2019, victims have handed over more than $73K to scammers

Police say a lot of Calgarians have been falling for an old telephone scam with a new twist.

The scammers have been targeting victims on landlines, pretending to be bank officials.

To overcome suspicions that it's a scam, they ask the victims to hang up and call the number on the back of their bank card, which is a customer service number for the credit or debit card company, police said in a release.

But the scammers remain on the line and then, after the person dials, they "answer" as a bank official or an "account investigator."

This tactic works only on landlines. Cellphone calls terminate if just one side of the call hangs up.

The scammers then trick their victims into making purchases using their debit or credit card, usually of gift cards, to help the "bank" determine which activity on the account is "genuine" and which is "fraudulent."

In 2018, the Calgary Police Service saw a 60 per cent increase in the amount of money lost from these kinds of scams, with a reported loss of more than $640,000 last year.

So far in 2019, there have been 17 reported cases of bank fraud phone scams resulting in a loss of more than $73,000.

Police want to remind people that a legitimate financial institution would never call a customer and ask for their help in an investigation, especially if the "investigator" requires the victim to make a purchase.

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