Police warning public to be wary of phone scams

Police in York Region have issued a public warning after multiple victims lost thousands to scammers.

According to a media release, there has been an increase in scams where the suspects are identifying themselves as government officials or police officers.

“In recent incidents, fraudsters have made contact with victims by telephone and advised the victim that they are officers from either the Government of Canada, Royal Canadian Mounted Police or York Regional Police and that the victim’s bank accounts or credit cards have been compromised,” a media release reads.

“The suspects in some cases have been able to utilize software to alter their phone numbers to make it appear that they are calling from a police phone line. Recent incidents have shown that the suspects are getting the victim to withdraw all funds from their bank accounts, attend a Bitcoin machine which are usually in convenience stores and use the machines to transfer all of their cash into a Bitcoin account number provided.”

Bitcoin is a worldwide crypto currency which is not regulated by any central body, making it impossible for victims to get their money back once deposited into a machine and transferred to a fraudster’s virtual wallet, police noted.

“Bitcoin transactions are difficult to trace, which makes investigations where Canadian currency is turned into Bitcoin particularly challenging for investigators,” the media release reads.

The release notes that police forces do not engage or participate in money or tax collection of any kind and do not arrest individuals in relation to overdue taxes.

“Any call or email of this nature should be considered a scam. If you have concerns about the possibility of your bank accounts being compromised, contact your financial institution or credit card company immediately,” the media release reads.

Any concerns related to overdue taxes should be discussed and confirmed directly with the Canada Revenue Agency.

“York Regional Police is reminding citizens to be cautious and to confirm any suspicious calls or emails they receive before providing any information or payments. If a situation feels suspicious, trust your instincts and take your time to thoroughly check the facts out,” the media release reads.

“Organized criminals use pressure tactics to convince you to act immediately and with a sense of urgency. Do not be talked into providing personal information or payments by methods that you are unfamiliar or uncomfortable with and call companies or agencies back to verify information first. Share this information with your family, especially seniors.”

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