Police offer tips to avoid online money transfer scams

ORILLIA – The OPP Anti-Rackets Branch, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and Ontario’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) are again warning people about money transfer scams that extort money and personal information from unwitting victims.

“Money transfer and cheque fraud scams are successful for fraudsters because they constantly find ways to put a new spin on an old scam,” police stated in a press release.

Police explained that typically, individuals use a phone or computer to communicate with victims before offering a financial transaction. 

“Often this serves a dual purpose of providing criminals with access to your banking information and then for you to legitimately send them money,” police say.

“This category of scams may also include offers such as job proposals, fake prizes and foreign money exchanges.”

According to the CAFC, these types of scams defrauded victims across Canada of approximately $25 million in 2018. 

Investigators found two scenarios are most commonly used. In one version, someone responds to a resume that victims have submitted to a job posting site. Suspects will to convince victims they’re qualifications are ideal. Conversations lead to a job offer but there will be some form of financial transaction that needs to take place.

In another common scenario, scammers will respond to an advertisement that has been placed on a buy and sell site. Suspects will generally offer the asking price or more without physically seeing the item and then send too much money, asking the seller to send the excess back to them. 

Police have offered the following tips to avoid being scammed:

– think twice before uploading a resume to a job posting site requiring personal information and do research on the company (if  possible, physically attend the business and give the resume to the person in charge of hiring); and

– when dealing with online buy-and-sell sites, consider dealing face-to-face with the prospective buyer, pay with cash, and try to deal locally at a safe location (if the vendor pushes for an electronic money transfer, assume it is a scam).  

Those who suspect a money transfer scam has occurred can contact police and also file a complaint through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. 

During March, the OPP is posting tips and links to various resources online to help the public recognize, reject and report fraud on social media by using the hashtags #FPM2019 and #knowfraud.