March is Fraud Prevention Month!





2019 March 01

Cst Jeff Palmer

604 925 7429 Desk


March is Fraud Prevention Month! Knowledge can be your best weapon against victimization.  

West Vancouver Police join our partners in fraud prevention this month, working to build awareness of scams and how to protect yourself against them.


We Bring Fraud Prevention Information Directly To You!

Meet Our Community Services Unit Members

at Fraud Prevention Month Information Booths:

Wednesday, March 6th – WV Memorial Library  - 1pm to 3pm

Wednesday, March 13th – WV Senior’s Activity Center - 11am to 1pm 

Thursday, March 21st – WV Community Center Atrium – 10am to 1pm

Thursday, March 28th – Gleneagles Community Center – 10am to 1pm 


What to do if you're a victim

  • Gather all information about the fraud. This includes documents, receipts, copies of emails and/or text messages.
  • Report the incident to police. Prompt reporting increases the chance of recovering any loss and of identifying a suspect.  It also helps ensure police are aware of scams targeting residents and businesses. 
  • Contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll free at 1-888-495-8501.
  • Report the incident to the financial institution where the money was sent (e.g., money service business such as Western Union or MoneyGram, bank or credit union, credit card company or internet payment service provider)
  • If the fraud took place online through Facebook, eBay, a classified ad such as Kijiji or a dating website, be sure to report the incident directly to the website. These details can be found under "report abuse" or "report an ad."
  • Victims of identity fraud should place flags on all their accounts and report to credit bureaus such as Equifax and TransUnion.

Continue to protect yourself…and others

  • Beware of Recovery Scams. Victims of fraud are often targeted a second or third time with the promise of recovering money previously lost. Always do your due diligence.  Never send money to recover money.
  • Stay current. Advise Police, the CAFC, and financial institutions of any updates.
  • Be pro-active. Educate family, friends, neighbours and co-workers on mass marketing frauds. You may prevent someone else from becoming a victim

Here are just a few of the scams to be aware of.  Please note this is a partial list.

**Recommended Reading - "The Little Black Book Of Scams" A comprehensive explanation of scams to protect yourself from! Free copies available from the West Vancouver Police Community Services Unit or Click Here For A PDF Copy Of The Book Of Scams

Meet West Vancouver Police Block Watch & Police Officers at a Fraud Prevention Information Booth!


The Emergency Scam - Scammers use social media, the internet and newspapers to target potential senior victims, a call is received claiming to be a family member or a close friend advising about an urgent situation that requires immediate funds. Common themes have been that the family member was arrested or got into an accident while traveling abroad. Fees are required for hospital expenses, lawyer fees or bail. Usually the potential victim is instructed to send money via a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram.


Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

  • Confirm with other relatives the whereabouts of the family member or friend.
  • Police, Judges or legal entities will never request that money be sent through money service business
  • Never voluntarily give out family member’s names or information to unknown callers.
  • Always question urgent requests for money.


Phishing Scams

Smart phone scam

Scam artists use unsolicited email, social media or even unsolicited messages to your smart phone.  The message will attempt to convince you that there is a problem with a personal financial or social media account, or that there is informatikon that you need to click on a link to see.  This is known as "Phishing" or "brand spoofing".  

Perpetrators send authentic-looking messages in an effort to “fish” or “phish” for personal and financial information.

The email, text or social media message will attempt to direct recipients to click on links that re-direct them to fraudulent or "spoofed" websites. Once on the fraudulent site, the email recipient is asked to enter personal and/or financial information that is later used to commit fraud. 

If you receive such an email/text/message Do not respond. Do not open or click on any links or open attachments contained within the message! Delete the message.

The sample message above was received on the West Vancouver Police Patrol Sergeant Duty Cellphone.  Genuine banks DO NOT send unsolicited messages to you seeking your personal information. Delete any such messages. Do  not click on or follow any link in an unsolicited message.  If you have concerns, contact your bank or financial instituation directly.


Job Scam ‐ Mystery Shopper - Scammer’s use free online classified websites like Kijiji, Craig’s List, Monster and Workopolis to recruit potential victims. Students answer an enticing ad to become a mystery shopper that is received either posted online or they receive a message by email or text. The “employer” sends a letter with shopping tasks to be completed by the “employee” at a particular company. A cheque is enclosed with the letter to assist the “employee” with purchasing goods to fulfill the shopping tasks. The “employee” is instructed to deposit the cheque and keep a portion of the funds as payment for the job. The remaining funds are to be used to send a wire at a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram to test the company’s procedure and customer service skills. Eventually the cheque is returned counterfeit and the “employee” is accountable to pay for the funds that were wired.


Warning Signs ‐ How to Protect Yourself

  • Be mindful where you post your resume, scammers use legitimate websites to seek out victims.
  • A legitimate employer will never send funds and request a portion of it back.
  • Do your research; a simple search on the internet can save you thousands of dollars.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it is.


Vacation Scams - Individuals receive a cold call advising that they’ve won a vacation. Real company names such as Expedia, Air Miles, Air Canada and WestJet have been used. The caller advises the potential victim that they are a preferred customer and have been awarded a credit or discount on a trip if booked immediately. High pressure sales tactics are used and the caller will request a credit card number in order to pay for fees such as taxes.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

  • An unknown caller tells you that you won a contest you didn’t enter.
  • You receive a call advising you have won a free vacation but have to provide a credit card number to cover taxes prior to receiving the vacation.
  • Check the website of legitimate companies; they usually post warnings about these types of solicitations.
  • Never give out personal information or credit card information over the phone. 
  • If it seems too good to be true…it is


Timeshare Re‐Sale Scams - Consumers are solicited over the phone and made an offer to sell their timeshare. In some cases the consumer advertised their timeshare for sale on the internet. The suspect promises a quick sale with a high profit margin. Various fees are requested up front prior to the final sale; this includes maintenance fees, escrow fees and fees to cover taxes. Documentation and correspondence with the victim is conducted on a professional level. The suspect provides victims with official looking documents which are detailed and may require a signature or witness. This approach is used to provide a level of authenticity to convince victims of the legitimacy of the company and transaction to be carried out. Victims are often solicited by companies in the United States but are required to transfer funds to bank accounts in Mexico through a bank to bank wire transfer.

Warning Signs ‐ How to Protect Yourself

You can minimize risk through safeguards such as the following:

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers to sell your timeshare. Don’t agree to anything on the phone or online until you thoroughly research the reseller.
  • Many “businesses” claim to specialize in reselling timeshares. Do your research and only use an accredited agency and/or website.
  • Do not pay any fees upfront to get your timeshare sold. Use a company that offers to sell for a fee after the timeshare is sold.
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it is.


Merchandise Scams ‐ Buying Online & Counterfeit Goods - Be cautious when buying merchandise online. Fully review feedback and to deal with companies or individuals that they know by reputation or from past experience. If the buyer is not familiar with a particular seller, they should independently verify who they are. A good rule of thumb ‐ if the asking price of a product is  too good to be true, it very likely is. Counterfeiters have also become proficient in producing websites that have the same look and feel as the legitimate manufacturer. Counterfeit products are far inferior and in many cases could pose a significant health risk to consumers. For example counterfeit jackets have been found to contain bacteria, fungus and mildew.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

Never make a deal outside the auction site, and be cautious of items offered through online classified ads for extremely low prices;

  • Beware if there is limited or no feedback rating on sellers;
  • Beware of sellers and renters from overseas;
  • Use a credit card when shopping online, customers are offered protection and may receive a refund. Although email money transfers or debit cards are legitimate, an offer of protection for counterfeit products purchased online is currently not available.
  • Inspect the website thoroughly. Often counterfeit web sites will contain spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.


Extortion Scams 

Ransomware ‐ A pop up message shows up on the computer stating “This IP address was used to visit websites containing pornography, child pornography, zoophile and child abuse. Your computer also contains video files with Pornographic content, elements of violence and child pornography! Spam‐messages with terrorist motives were also sent from your computer.” The messages are socially engineered to appear as if coming from either the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) or the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and tell the consumer they need to pay $100‐$250 via Bitcoin, Ukash or PaySafe Card to unlock their computer.

Sextortion ‐ Victims are lured into an online relationship through social media or pornographic websites. As the relationship builds, victims are encouraged to use the computer’s camera and the “scammer” will coerce the victim to perform a sexual act in front of the camera. The victim is later advised that the event was recorded and unless a sum of money is paid the video will be released through various online websites such as YouTube. The transfer of money is requested through money services businesses such as Western Union, MoneyGram and Ukash. Some consumers have endured many emotional stresses in their lives and being caught in this scenario can be too much to handle.

Warning Signs ‐ How to Protect Yourself

  • Beware of pop‐up messages or a banner with a ransom request
  • Never click on a pop up that claims your computer has a virus, if you cannot access anything on the computer beyond the pop‐up screen your computer is infected.
  • Never send money to "unlock" a computer; 
  • Deny any request to perform an illicit act over the internet.


Prize Scam - Victims are solicited over the phone or email and advised they are the winner of a large lottery or sweepstakes. Prior to receiving any winnings, the consumer must first pay an upfront fee. No winnings are ever received. The scammers constantly re‐invent the wheel and come up with new twists to prey on potential victims. Recent reports across Canada included seniors receiving a call from an individual who claims to represent “Reader’s Digest”, or “Set For Life Lottery”. They are advised they have won a prize and that in order to receive the prize they are required to provide their bank debit card number, date of birth and in some cases are asked to enter their PIN into the telephone key pad. Scammers target seniors who do not use online banking services and use the financial information to take over the account which is then used to launder money and proceeds from other mass marketing fraud scams.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

  • Known lottery and sweepstakes companies such as Reader’s Digest, and Publisher’s Clearinghouse will never request for money up front in order to receive a prize.
  • Any fees associated to winnings will never be paid through a money service business such as Western Union, MoneyGram or by loading funds to prepaid credit cards such as Green Dot.
  • Any unsolicited phone call advising that you have won a lottery is fake. The only way to participate in any foreign lottery is to go to the country of origin and purchase a ticket in person. A ticket cannot be purchased on your behalf.
  • Never give out personal information over the phone, no matter who the caller claims to represent. 



Romance Scam - Scammers are targeting individuals who have turned to the internet to seek a romantic mate. The scammer will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection and will communicate through the phone and email for months if needed to build that trust. The scammer will claim to be located in a foreign country but will want to meet up with the victim in person. It is at this time that the scammer will advise that they can't afford to travel and will ask for money to cover travel costs. Other variations include the scammer claiming that there is an emergency with a sick relative and will ask for money to cover medical expenses.

Warning Signs ‐ How to Protect Yourself

  • Be on the lookout for someone who claims to be from Canada or the U.S but they are working overseas;
  • Be careful communicating with someone who claims to have fallen in love with you quickly;
  • Don't leave the dating site; the person will usually want to use instant messaging or email;
  • Beware if they claim they are coming to visit you but some situation prevents it from happening and;
  • Don't cash any cheques or send the person any money for any reason, whatsoever!


Service Scams

Microsoft/Windows technician ‐ Scammers call and pretend to represent a well‐known computer based company like Microsoft and claim that the victim’s computer is sending out viruses or has been hacked and must be cleaned. The scammer will remotely gain access to the computer and may run some programs or change some settings. The scammer will then advise that a fee is required for the service of cleaning and request a credit card number to cover the payment. In some cases the scammer will send a transfer from the victims’ computer through a money service business like Western Union or MoneyGram. The end result is that the victim pays for a service that was not needed as the computer was never infected.  

Warning Signs - How to protect yourself

  • Microsoft and other reputable computer companies do not make such unsolicited calls.
  • Hang up on any such caller immediately


Lower Interest Rate ‐ scammers call and make an offer to reduce interest rates on the victim’s credit cards or line of credit. Personal information is requested such as SIN, mother’s maiden name, date of birth and the credit card number with the expiry date of the cards they want reduced. 

Warning Signs - How to protect yourself

  • Never share personal information with any unknown person over the phone
  • Hang up on any such caller. 


Wire Frauds - One type of wire fraud currently targeting businesses is the Business Executive Scam (BES) which is a type of phishing. The potential victim receives an email that appears to come from their employer’s human resources or technical support department. Fraudsters create email addresses that mimic that of the real departments. An email message will be sent to the accounting department advising that the “executive” is working off‐site and has identified an outstanding payment that needs to be made as soon as possible. The “executive” instructs the payment to be made and provides a name and a bank account where the funds, generally a large dollar amount, are to be sent. Losses are typically in the excess of $100,000.00.Financial Industry wire frauds occur when Canadian financial institutions and investment brokers receive fraudulent email requests from what they believe to be an existing client. Unbeknownst to them, the email account of their client has been compromised. A request is sent by the fraudster to the financial institution/investment broker to have money transferred from “their” bank account usually to a foreign bank account.

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

  • Beware of unsolicited emails from individuals or financial institutions presenting an urgent situation requiring immediate attention.
  • Prior to sending any funds or product, make contact with existing clients in person or by telephone to confirm that the request is legitimate.
  • Watch for spelling and formatting errors and be wary of clicking on any attachments, they can contain viruses and spyware.


Directory Scams - Businesses receive an invoice for a directory, publication or listing that they did not order or authorize. Fraudsters will place a call to the business and speak to employee and ask to confirm details such as the company’s address, telephone number and other particulars. An invoice is sent to the company and often payment is made by the accounting department not realizing the company never ordered or agreed to pay for the directory. The fraudster may tape record the initial conversation and use that against the company to verify the purchase of the directory. 

Warning Signs – How to Protect Yourself

  • Educate employees at every level to be wary of unsolicited calls.
  • Post notices and discuss during staff meetings.
  • Compile a list of companies that are typically used by your business, give authority to only a number of staff to approve purchases and pay bills.
  • Fraudsters will use real company names like Yellow Pages to make the invoices seem authentic. Inspect invoices thoroughly prior to making payment.


The Supplier Swindle - Canadian businesses are losing significant amounts of money to fraudsters who claim to represent their regular supplier. The scam is targeting businesses that buy supplies from foreign wholesalers (e.g. China) and usually involves a spoofed e‐mail informing the buyers of a change in payment arrangements. “Email spoofing refers to email that appears to have originated from one source when it was actually sent from another source.” The e‐mail notice provides new banking details and requests that future payments be made to this “new” account.

Warning Signs ‐ How to Protect Yourself

  • Beware of unsolicited emails from individuals or financial institutions presenting an urgent situation requiring immediate attention.
  • Prior to sending any funds or product, make contact with existing clients in person or by telephone to confirm that the request is legitimate.
  • Watch for spelling and formatting errors and be wary of clicking on any attachments,they can contain viruses and spyware.

If you think you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud, contact Police.  For more information on fraud visit the Canadian

Click Here For A PDF Copy Of The Book Of Scams