The Barrie 360 newsroom line rang early Friday afternoon, a call that some folks have already endured.
On the other end, a synthetic voice that informed us there was a problem with our social insurance number, while pressing one on the keypad connected us to a “Service Canada” agent. The so-called agent began asking for personal details, starting with a name.
The agent then asked to verify a postal code and address. Both were given to him, albeit bogus and contradictory. Barrie Police spokesperson Peter Leon says a few things were going on here. “Once they have that information, they’re obtaining your full mailing address. They can now fill out applications with respect to credit cards,” says Leon “The information you’re providing is now allowing them to participate in what we refer to as identity theft.”
Leon says this type of scam can sometimes be a long con. “They will slowly work with information they have, and they may have information you don’t know. Once they start adding the information together, they’ve got enough. Next thing you know, they’ve got credit cards in your name, and they’re making significant purchases. They’ll dump the credit card shortly after it’s been used.”
After a false name and mailing address was provided, the “agent” claimed that there were some 25 bank accounts in our name, connected to various crimes and fraud, making claims that the police were going to come and make an arrest within 45 minutes. A scare tactic, says Leon, designed to ensure we do what we’re told by the voice on the other end. “People are fearful of being arrested,” says Leon, “these scammers want your money and if you give them what they are asking for, it is a way to stay out of jail.”
Once the charges against us were detailed, the “agent” began asking probative questions about bank accounts and how much they contain. Leon says this is part of the long con, so the bad guys know how much they can fleece out of you. “It could be an indication to how much money, down the road, they try to defraud from you,” says Leon, “If for some reason you throw out a number, and let’s make it simple and say $10,000; they may need $2,000 to start. They may need an additional $3,000 to deal with what they’re dealing with. And then the next thing you know, they need $5,000. Very quickly we’ve added up to $10,000 and they know roughly how much you have in your savings.”
“If you’re dealing with a bank, the Government of Canada, Revenue Canada, they’ve got access to a lot of information,” adds Leon, “they’re not going to make a phone call and make these kinds of demands over the phone.”
It was at this point, the Barrie 360 news team chose to end the ruse. However, it wasn’t the first call to the newsroom. A similar call came a day prior and when our reporter spoke in normal, confident tones, the scammers immediately hung up. In the second call, an attempt to sound more vulnerable was used. Leon says these scammers know their prey. “They are working on a profile that they have established that they know is a profile that will work for them,” says Leon, “and we recognize in law enforcement that there is a segment in our society that is very vulnerable, and that is our seniors. That’s why it is very important to share this information with your parents.”
“They are looking for certain people they can take advantage of,” Leon concluded, “if you don’t recognize the number, just don’t answer the phone.”
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