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PUBLIC ADVISORY: BPS Warn Residents About Scams

Feb 14, 2022

Brantford Police Service are issuing a warning to residents after receiving reports of several ongoing scams. Some of the scams involve the following:

Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency Investment Scams

Reports have been received where the victim comes across internet postings or postings on social media regarding Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency investment opportunities. In all cases, these postings promise high returns for investing. The suspect directs the victim to purchase Bitcoin or other crypto-currency and then transfer it into a "trading account”. In reality, the victim transfers their Bitcoin into the suspect’s own crypto currency wallet where the funds disappear, and the victim no longer has access to these funds. In some cases, the suspect will have the victim allow them access to their computer or cell phone thru a screen sharing application. The suspect then gains access to the victim’s computer or cell phone where they are now able to transfer funds out of the victim’s accounts. 
 

Information Phishing Scams

Reports have been received where the victim signs up for an online investment opportunity. The victim is directed to complete a sign-up form where they are asked for personal and identity information including bank account number, online banking passwords, date of birth, driver’s license number, social insurance number and phone number. The suspect then uses this information to access the victim’s bank account and transfer funds away from the victim. 
 

Automated CRA Phone Calls

Brantford Police Service are aware of ongoing scam phone calls involving persons claiming to be from the Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA). This scam involves a threat to individuals for payment of a fictitious debt to avoid arrest. The victim is often asked to repay their false debt by wire transfer, cyber-based currency or with the purchase of gift cards.
 
This scam often involves the use of technology which can cause a phone display to show a local telephone number, or a Brantford Police Service registered phone number. This technique is called "spoofing”. Caller ID spoofing allows fraudsters to disguise their calls and make them appear to represent a legitimate organization. Do not trust what is showing on your phone’s caller ID display. If you suspect a company or government agency is seeking personal information or money fraudulently, contact them directly to verify the validity of the request.
 
Residents are advised to be cautious of such scams and to be advised that no such calls are being made from any phone number associated with the Brantford Police Service.
 
Members of the Canadian Revenue Agency will not call you and ask for your banking information while threatening your arrest. The Canadian Revenue Agency does not accept e-transfers or wire payments for any fees or services. The CRA never uses text messages or instant messaging such as Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp to communicate with taxpayers. Any text or instant message claiming to be from the CRA is a scam.
 
The Canadian Revenue Agency can be reached at 1-800-959-8281, or you can monitor "My Account” online at http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/scrty/frdprvntn/menu-eng.html 
 

Gift Card Purchase

Reports have been received where the victim will receive an email from an individual posing as an authority figure requesting the victim to purchase gift cards and provide the activation pins for the cards. The gift cards are requested under the pretense that the victim’s bank account or credit card may have been tampered with and must be verified. Under no circumstances will a financial institution or employer request to verify your accounts in this manner.  
 

Online Buy and Sell Scams

The Brantford Police Service have received reports of online buy and sell scams. In these cases, the buyer responds to an ad posted online for the sale of an item or, occasionally a pet. In cases involving animals, the seller will frequently request that payment be transferred electronically and will often request an e-transfer for a deposit to hold the item or for additional costs to cover items such as shipping or pet insurance. Often the items are never received by the buyer.
 
Brantford Police Service would like to remind the public to be vigilant while responding to email requests to send money or when shopping online on buy and sell sites for items.
 
The following safety tips should be considered when making purchases online:
  • DO NOT send a deposit or full payment without seeing the item.
  • Be sure to verify the legitimacy of the seller
  • Make purchases from known breeders or suppliers.
  • Trust your instincts. If a deal seems too good to be true, it likely is.
  • When in doubt, consult police or someone you trust before sending funds.

From January 1, 2021, to December 31, 2021, Brantford Police Service received 201 reports of fraud. From January 1, 2022, to date, Brantford Police Service has received 35 reports of fraud.
 
The Brantford Police Service wish to remind residents of the importance of fraud education and protecting oneself from becoming a victim. Please see below for tips on how to protect yourself from fraud. We also encourage spreading the word to those, such as the elderly, who may be particularly vulnerable to these fraudsters and may be targets of these high-pressure scams.
 

TIPS TO PROTECT YOURSELF:

  • Be mindful of advertisements for investments that promise higher than normal returns. "If it’s too good to be true, it most always is too good to be true.”
  • Be aware that social media account takeovers are becoming more and more common. Suspects will take over a social media account and post advertisements for their scams.  It will appear that your social media friends are making these posts and referring you to the investment. 
  • Be mindful when investing with or providing any personal information to a potential investment advisor. Do your research before investing. Ask for phone numbers and be sure you can contact these persons on these phone numbers. Confirm an address where the investor is based out of.  Ask for references. In all likelihood, if you ask a scammer for these things, they will either not be able to provide them or will provide excuses as to why they cannot provide them.
  • Never allow anyone to access your phone or computer thru a screen sharing application. A legitimate entity would never invade your privacy in this way.  
  • DO NOT provide personal information (e.g., Social Insurance Number, passport number, banking information or credit card numbers) over the phone unless you placed the call, and you know for certain who you are speaking to.
  • Accredited businesses and government agencies will never ask for payment using gift cards or bitcoin.
  • If you suspect it is a scam, it may be - just hang up. Conduct your own research to determine validity.
  • Never wire money based on a request made over the phone or in an email, especially overseas.
  • Resist the pressure to act quickly, if the offer is too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Consider adding your phone number to the National Do Not Call List: https://lnnte-dncl.gc.ca/en
  • Consult with someone you trust before agreeing to provide large sums of money to anyone.
  • DO NOT write down passwords and carry them with you.
 
If you have already sent funds and/or your personal information, contact the police and your financial institution immediately. If you believe that you have been a victim of fraud and reside in the City of Brantford, contact the Brantford Police Service at 519-756-7050. You can also report online at: https://www.brantfordpolice.ca/online-reporting
 
If you have not experienced a financial loss but have received a fraudulent call, such as the CRA scam, please report the incident by calling the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraud.ca/index-eng.htm
              
 
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