Stopping scams is everyone”™s job

Local bank staff are being credited with helping to prevent a despicable scam from becoming worse.

Wellington County OPP officers were called on March 15 to the Drayton branch of the RBC Royal Bank after employees there became suspicious and contacted police when a senior citizen attempted to transfer around $20,000 to pay a tax on a lottery prize.

After speaking to the senior and bank staff, OPP discovered over $12,000 had already been defrauded and transferred to scam operators.

In this case, the victim was told they had won a prize of $3.5 million and an exotic car. Police state that months of grooming convinced the victim that it was necessary to send money to avoid being defrauded.

This story is the latest in a long line of scams that seem to increase exponentially with the ability of modern communications technology to allow scam artists to identify and contact victims.

While thankfully the bank employees were able to intervene in this local case to prevent further fraud, education and vigilance are really the best ways to prevent such heinous bilking of the vulnerable.

Bank workers aren’t the only ones who must be on the lookout for unusual transactions. Ever more common lately are scams that involve the victims purchasing large amounts of gift cards for iTunes or other commodities that victims activate for criminals who cash in on them. Business owners and retail employers should be alert for such transactions and know how to respond.

In addition, all of us must make efforts to educate ourselves, and those we care about, on the various types of scams making the rounds so that mental alarm bells will go off when they appear.

Victims and potential victims alike, must be convinced to report when they are targeted, whether they end up being defrauded or not. March is Fraud Prevention Month, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has released an estimate indicating less than 5% of mass marketing fraud is ever reported. That is a horrifying statistic that reveals criminals are getting away with reprehensible schemes far too often.

The centre is also offering tips on what to do if you fall victim to a scam, including:

– gather information pertaining to the fraud, including documents, receipts and copies of emails and/or text messages;

– report the incident to your local law enforcement. Keep a log of all your calls and record all file or occurrence numbers;

– contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System (FRS);

– report the incident to the financial institution the money was sent through;

– if the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji or other website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website; and

– victims of ID fraud should place flags on all their accounts and report to credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online at