Do not send money electronically or make payments to anyone over the telephone. Photo: Debby Hudson on Unsplash

Telephone fraudsters targeting Greater Trail

A local grandmother called the Trail Times to warn others about telephone scam artists

Even though Phyllis Boates has the call block feature set up on her telephone, she still answers when “private caller” comes up, thinking perhaps it’s her husband’s doctor, for example.

That’s what happened when she picked up a call early Monday morning, only to find it wasn’t the family doctor.

In fact after a few minutes of light banter, she realized it wasn’t her granddaughter as the female on the other end of the line professed to be.

“This young voice said, ‘Hi grandma,'” Phyllis recounted. “She said, ‘How are you guys doing this morning and what are your plans for the day?'”

Phyllis engaged for a few minutes while the crafty caller picked up verbal cues such as, replying that it was a nice day for the couple to go for a walk.

Finally Phyllis asked, “You don’t sound like any of my granddaughters, who is this?”

The caller replied, “Who do you think?”

Phyllis said, “Well you sound like Vanessa.”

The person on the other end said that she was indeed Vanessa, and that she was in trouble.

“Vanessa” then claimed she’d been driving while texting and hit a man who was sent to the hospital. Then, she told Phyllis she was at the police station and needed money.

This is when the Trail grandmother had enough of the ruse and said, “Yeah, you need money alright,” and proceeded to hang up.

Though Phyllis figured out quickly that this was a scam, she worries that others, who are much more vulnerable, will be taken in by these well-rehearsed fraudsters.

In fact, she called a friend in Nelson to recount her experience, and her friend believed the story right up until Phyllis revealed it was all bunk.

So she called the Trail Times to let others know not to be fooled by these rather adept scam artists.

“There are people out there who are vulnerable, so I want to let them know, and I am phoning the RCMP right now,” Phyllis said.

While this particular swindle wasn’t included in the Trail RCMP news brief this week, Greater Trail RCMP Sgt. Mike Wicentowich did advise of a few others.

The first involved a Trail senior who’d been targeted the morning of Nov. 6 via telephone not once, but twice by the same set of swindlers.

The 75-year-old man was contacted two times by callers who stated that he was being investigated for drug possession.

“The suspects, who attempted to obtain the victim’s Social Insurance Number, demanded that he send them money,” Wicentowich reported.

“The victim hung up both times then contacted the Trail RCMP to report the incident. Trail RCMP recommended that he alert Service Canada about the attempted fraud.”

The next case reported to the Trail detachment happened the afternoon of Nov. 6.

That’s when police received a complaint from a Montrose man, 44, that a fraudster claiming to work for National Defence had been contacting local residents and demanding payment for fictitious outstanding debts.

The fraudster was able to display a local number using sophisticated computer software.

“Trail RCMP would like the public to be aware of the latest ongoing telephone frauds,” Wicentowich said.

“Trail RCMP recommend to never provide personal or banking information over the phone to anyone. The public is encouraged to only provide sensitive information through verified company contacts and systems.”

The safest way to provide information is in-person or to someone you know who works at the business or government agency.

“Please do not assume the telephone number contacting you is legitimate as computer software can replicate any phone number,” the sergeant stressed.

“Please do not send money electronically or make payments to anyone over the telephone without taking steps to verify that you are the potential victim of a fraud. Once money is sent electronically it likely cannot be recovered.”

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