The latest scammer tactics to defraud Canadians includes spoofing the caller ID of 15 federal government agencies and police departments, with con artists demanding money from victims.
The con involves calling Canadians with caller ID showing up as a federal agency, lending credence to the incoming call. Victims answer the phone or receive a message they are in trouble and will be contacted by police.
The next call—similarly spoofed—appears to be from local police, which tells victims to then reveal banking info and to start depositing money into a Bitcoin ATM, described as a “government wallet safe machine”.
As per CBC News, here’s what happened to one Vancouver’s Andrea van Noord last week—losing $6,000:
The fraudster told her she had to withdraw her money within the hour to protect it before the account was frozen. Keeping her on the phone the entire time, the scammer instructed her to take a cab to her bank and coached her as she withdrew the money., then told her to take it to a café with a bitcoin machine (described as a “government wallet safe machine”) that would “protect” her money.
It was only later in the day, after she talked with her partner, that she realized she had been robbed.
“I felt like an idiot,” she said. “I felt completely invaded. I felt kind of dirty. I felt that this was very much my fault and that I should have recognized the signs.”
Van Noord was told her SIN had been used in $3 million dollars worth of fraud with 25 credit cards, plus told her a 1998 Toyota Camry had been registered in her name was found with bloodstains in the vehicle. Also, a house in her name had 22 pounds of cocaine discovered inside.
“They said at this time there was a warrant for my arrest and I was currently being charged with drug trafficking, money laundering and fraud against the Canada Revenue Agency,” said van Noord, explaining she was panicked from the phone calls, which appeared to be coming from India.
A Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre spokesperson told CBC News “it’s hitting lots of Canadians,” noting even the Anti-Fraud Centre has been spoofed by fraudsters.
CBC News says it determined 15 federal agencies being spoofed by fraudsters right now:
Federal Court of Appeal
Department of National Defence
Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
Canada Revenue Agency
RCMP detachments in Kingston and Cornwall
Correctional Service of Canada
Canadian Centre for Cyber Security
Privacy Commissioner’s Office
Competition Bureau of Canada
Financial Consumer Agency of Canada
Canada Border Services Agency
Parole Board of Canada
According to data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, in 2018, 1,490 Canadians fell victim to scams, losing a combined $6.4 million.
The CRTC has been warning Canadians to “Be cautious if you received a call from a federal agency. It could be a #scam! When in doubt, hang up and call the organization directly or go to their website!”
Be cautious if you received a call from a federal agency. It could be a #scam! When in doubt, hang up and call the organization directly or go to their website!
— CRTCeng (@CRTCeng) November 6, 2019
Last month, Canada’s Competition Bureau started receiving reports its number was being spoofed. “#ScamAlert: We received reports that our phone # (1-800-348-5358) has been used to threaten people with false warrants for arrest. We are working with our partners to resolve this. If you received such a message, don’t respond to the caller.”
#ScamAlert: We received reports that our phone # (1-800-348-5358) has been used to threaten people with false warrants for arrest. We are working with our partners to resolve this. If you received such a message, don’t respond to the caller. pic.twitter.com/Lhmd0ivCCD
— Competition Bureau (@CompBureau) October 11, 2019
Starting in December, a CRTC mandate will require all wireless carriers in Canada to implement universal call blocking, which might not be able to stop spoofing, however.