Phone scammers back
with tech support ruse

South Okanagan RCMP are warning of a pervasive tech support phone scam that is reportedly making the rounds yet again.

Local RCMP reported Thursday it is seeing a sharp increase in the number of telephone computer support scams, and is warning the public not to become victims.

The scam often originates from outside of Canada, and occurs when a person is called, often from a phone number which looks like a local number.

The person on the phone identifies him- or herself as a computer support person wanting to gain access to the person’s computer to make necessary updates.

The fake tech support scammer may pretend to be from Microsoft and claim also to need remote access to the intended victim’s computer.

The scammer then demands payment, typically in the form of untraceable gift cards, and make threats should they not receive the funds.

RCMP would like to remind the public that Microsoft does not send unsolicited email messages or make unsolicited phone calls to request personal or financial information or fix a computer.

The scam if one of a number that keeps fraud investigators hopping.

According to one seniors advocate, here are other online and phone scams commonly used by crooks:

  • Grandparent scams and emergency scams: Someone calls a senior pretending to be a grandchild in trouble – arrested, injured or stuck in another country – and in need of money. To allay suspicions, the “grandchild” gives the senior a phone number to call, and another fraudster – such as a fake doctor or lawyer – confirms the story. The “grandchild” asks the senior to send money and not to tell his or her parents.
  • Extortion scams and debt collection scams: Scammers pretend to represent government agencies, such as the Canada Revenue Agency or Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. They demand personal information, including financial details and passwords, or payment for “back taxes” by wire transfer or with prepaid credit cards.
  • Prize scams: Targets are told they’ve won a lottery or sweepstakes prize, but they must provide personal information, such as banking details, or send money to pay for fees or taxes. Scammers also tell “winners” to call premium phone numbers and keep them on expensive calls for as long as possible.
  • Romance and social media scams: Scammers create fake profiles on dating websites or social media to prey on lonely seniors. They build up a relationship with the target but come up with excuses not to meet in person. Eventually, the fraudsters ask for financial help for a fake personal problem (medical issues, a sick relative, etc.).
  • Charity scams: Scammers impersonate real charities in person, on the phone or online, often exploiting a real-world disaster or issue. They may use the logos and branding of real charities as part of the ruse.

Should anyone believe they have become the victim of any of these scams, they are encouraged to report it to their local RCMP Detachment, or call the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, 1-888-495-8501.

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