Potential scam averted

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers tips after Langley woman received suspicious call

Following a peculiar phone call from a man after an interview with her appeared in Peace Arch News, a Langley resident called the newspaper Thursday to confirm her suspicion.

Linda Bellamy said she received a phone call from a man Thursday. The man, who called from a Connecticut phone number, didn’t identify himself during the brief telephone conversation.

Bellamy told PAN that he asked for her email address so that he could email her the “design layout” for a news article PAN wrote about her and her mother Linda Vohlidka last February. The article was a feature on a crochet circle Bellamy started at Whitecliff Retirement Residence, where participants would make sleeping mats for homeless people out of plastic grocery bags.

Bellamy didn’t provide her email address to the man, and ended the conversation.

The man called a second time Friday.

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre acting call centre manager Jessica Gunson, based out of Ontario, told PAN that Bellamy’s call was unusual, and the intent of the suspected fraudster’s motives are unclear.

“Your guess is as good as ours when it comes to that,” Gunson said Friday.

Gunson said the majority of complaints CAFC receives are based on phishing techniques. Phishing is an attempt to obtain sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords and credit card details, for malicious reasons by disguising as a trustworthy entity.

“There’s always a number of reasons why someone would want an email,” she added.

Another possibility, Gunson said, adding that she was only speculating, is that the suspected fraudster may have wanted to email malware or a malicious link, something that could mine personal data from the recipient.

“It’s hard to know what the intent was without having more information,” she added.

Gunson offered some tips to the public to protect themselves from scammers.

“Right off the bat, if you’re receiving an unknown call or receiving a call from a number you don’t recognize, our number one recommendation is don’t pick up,” she said.

Gunson, who said she regularly receives suspicious calls from 800- and 855-area-code numbers, says she routinely lets the call ring to voice mail.

“If it’s really important, they will leave me a message. If something is urgent, and if someone needs to get a hold of me, those who need to get a hold of me know how to reach me.”

The most popular scam CAFC is dealing with at the moment – across the country – is fraudsters pretending to be representatives from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

“That’s what we’re receiving non-stop here, 100 per cent. It’s something that our centre here is inundated with,” Gunson said.

Victims, and potential victims, reported to CAFC that the caller display read CRA when they answered the phone.

“Call spoofing is out there, it’s not illegal but the frauds behind it are,” she added.

Call spoofing is a technique that will mask the identification of a phone number. Fraudsters use it to dupe victims into thinking that they’re dealing with a legitimate representative.

“When a scammer calls and tells you that you’re being investigated for tax fraud, it’s a lie to get you to send iTune cards, Steam cards, bitcoin. That’s the endgame.”



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

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