THUNDER BAY – Over the years, scam artists have spent a great deal of time and effort to separate people from their money or identities. Although many people figure “no one would ever fall for these frauds, the truth is many people do, and often these crimes go unreported because the victim often feels very embarrased or ashamed.
The Thunder Bay Police Service reported earlier today that they are receiving a high volume of complaints about law enforcement officers contacting them about supposed owed money.
This scam seems to be going across the region like a wave. There are similar reports out there from other Ontario and Manitoba communities.
This is a scam and police are advising the public to hang up immediately if they receive these calls. Unfortunately the Thunder Bay Police Service is unable to stop these calls from being made. For more information about protecting yourself from such scams please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/)
The complaints being received indicate this scam is targeting a significant number of local phone numbers. The scammers contact their targets impersonating an officer. They provide a name and a badge number before letting them know they owe a significant sum of money.
While the exact details of these kinds of scams may alter slightly, they are very much the same as ongoing Canada Revenue phone scams.
Would-be victims are told about a warrant out for their arrest. In an effort to make themselves appear authentic the person impersonating a police officer will recite the last three digits of the target’s social insurance number.
The amounts of money the fraudsters are telling victims they owe sometimes exceed $5,000.
The fraudster may even appear on your phone as the Thunder Bay Police Service’s non-emergency number (684-1200), or phone numbers from the Toronto area or other parts of Canada. Don’t be fooled, this is still a scam.
If you are contacted by the Thunder Bay Police Service’s non-emergency number, the agency name and number will NOT appear on your caller ID. Instead you will see “unknown number” “Private number” or any other similar message in lieu of 684-1200. Caller IDs can, and often are, faked by these fraudsters.
These would-be fraudsters are experts at creating a sense of urgency and panic. This panic leads to quick decisions, which oftentimes leads to success for the scammer.
The Thunder Bay Police Service would like to urge the public to have a conversation with friends and family who are more vulnerable and possibly most at risk to these attacks. The elderly and foreign students, who may have limited understanding about Canadian laws, are sometimes more aggressively targeted.