Nova Scotia

Woman phones number on her bank card, gets a fraudster instead

Police have arrested a man in Ontario who stole $15,000 from a Hilden, N.S., woman in an elaborate phone scam that saw the woman phone the number on her bank card and reach the scammer instead.

'With the advancements in technology, the criminals are getting more advanced,' says Const. Akhil Mooken

Police say it isn't clear how the victim reached the scammer when she called the number on her bank card. (Gajus/Shutterstock)

Police have arrested a man in Ontario who stole $15,000 from a Hilden, N.S., woman in a phone scam that saw the woman call the number on her bank card and reach the scammer instead.

The fraudster called the woman two weeks ago and said he was working with the RCMP and a bank to identify bank employees who were stealing from it.

At one point in the conversation, the victim told the suspect she thought it was all a scam. Police say that's when the accused urged the woman to hang up the phone and dial the number on the back of her debit card. When she did, the suspect answered the phone.

"With the advancements in technology, the criminals are getting more advanced and so is the equipment and techniques that they're using," said Const. Akhil Mooken of the Peel Regional Police in Ontario.

He said the RCMP is working with phone companies to figure out exactly what happened.

The scammer convinced the woman to send $15,000 in three separate packages via courier to three different addresses in Brampton, Ont., to help with the supposed investigation.

How police caught the suspect

Peel police were able to follow up on the addresses where the victim sent the packages and then locate the suspect.

A 21-year-old man has been charged with fraud offences in Nova Scotia and British Columbia.

Police say two of the three packages of cash have been recovered and will be returned to the Nova Scotia woman.

"I wouldn't say it was a good portion," said Mooken. "It was a small amount."

Police are using the occasion to remind people to be alert to fraud, particularly when callers request money be sent via courier or when requests are made to provide remote assistance via a computer.

Other similar scams

Though police cannot yet say how the scam was carried out, earlier this year a similar case played out in Vancouver.

In that incident, the fraudster had called a senior citizen on her landline. To prove he wasn't trying to defraud her, he told her to hang up and call her bank or 911. 

The fraudster, however, would stay on the line.

On some landline phones, when the originating caller does not hang up, the two lines stay connected.

When the senior picked up the phone again to call 911 or their bank as directed, the fraudster was still on the line.

They would play a fake dial tone, and then they would pretend to be the police officer or bank representative after the senior citizen dialled the number.