Scammers using variety of tactics, say RCMP

Be alert and protect personal and financial information

Houston Today file photo

RCMP are issuing renewed warnings about the multitude of attempts by scam artists to derive people of their money.

Some frauds may originate by email, others through social media sites, phone or regular mail. Regardless of their origin, they all have similarities.

Just last week emails were sent out under the name of a senior District of Houston employee with the subject heading: ‘Docu-Sign: Payout Contract’.

The email invited people to ‘click’ on ‘review document’ and then to sign.

What makes this scam attempt so realistic is that there actually is an American company called DocuSign which is headquartered in San Fransisco and which offers services to conduct electronic agreements.

“There are a number of basic things you can do to protect your accounts and money,” says Sergeant Mark Smaill, the commanding officer of the Houston RCMP detachment.

“Call someone to discuss before making any decisions,” he said.

“Don’t let your heart guide you into making a financial decision.”

And above else, follow this rule: If it is too good to be true, it is.

Here are some examples of attempted fraud:

Bitcoin scam — A business may get a phone call from someone purporting to be from a head office or other authoritative office, indicating the business was required to purchase a piece of equipment. If not, a health or other government inspector would close the business down. The victim is ordered to pay $1,100 in Bitcoin. The piece of equipment never arrives.

Gift card scam — It starts when someone receives an email from a known friend, requesting that the person purchase a $1000 Amazon gift card on the sender’s behalf, then forward it as a gift to an unknown and unfamiliar email address. After complying, the victim learns that the friend’s email account had been hacked.

Grandson scam — This begins when someone receives a phone call from a man claiming to be a lawyer representing his grandson. The” lawyer “said his grandson had been in a car accident, that he was in jail and needed $6000 immediately. The victim was provided with a bank account at two local chartered banks and $3000 was transferred from each account. The money was then transferred.

Computer fraud — This happens when a computer user receives an alert advising her to call a certain number. When she does call she’s told someone is buying pornography on her computer and that she was being hacked. In order to stop it, she needed to purchase Google cards. The victim was told if anyone asked what the cards were needed for, she was to say that they were for her grandchildren and that they were very important. The victim, who was in her late 70s, spent most of the day driving around buying the cards. Once they were purchased, she called the number back and provided the ten-digit code on the back of each card. The phone number provided was later determined to be a digital text line with no means of determining where it originated. The victim lost $4,500.

Fake gold scam — A man, waiting on a park bench for a friend, is approached by a couple asking for money as a result of them losing their wallet. The couple were well dressed and had two small children in their relatively new vehicle. The couple gave the victim several pieces of gold jewelry and told him that they would phone in a couple of days to confirm repayment of the money that was lent to them. The victim later found out that the address they provided was fake and the phone number given was incomplete.

Smaill said people should never provide personal information and be wary and cautious when approached by strangers concerning financial matters.

It’s also good practice to change passwords regularly regarding sites containing personal and financial information.

And, if called by someone and if it doesn’t feel right, Smaill has this piece of advice: Hang up.

People with concerns can also call the national Canadian Anti Fraud Centre, call 1-888-495-8501 or go online at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/scams-fraudes/victim-victime-eng.htm