Public Safety Alert, Phone-based Fraud scheme
Friday, February 9, 2018 - 10:40 AM
Financial Crimes: 416-808-7300
The Toronto Police Service is reminding the public to be vigilant regarding phone-based fraud schemes. Recently, members of the public have been contacted via phone by people posing as retailers who claim to be alerting them regarding a fraud offence in progress which involves the use of their credit card account.
After the initial conversation, the intended victim may be advised to dial 9-1-1 in order to alert police of the "credit card fraud" that is supposedly in progress.
The victim may also be advised to contact their financial institution in order to protect their financial interests.
The victim will hang up and do so, being unaware that the original caller has not disconnected.
The victim believes they have contacted police via 9-1-1 and/or their financial institution, but they have actually been re-directed to an imposter posing as a 9-1-1 call-taker or bank employee.
The "call-taker" will speak to the victim and connect them to yet another imposter posing as a police investigator or will refer the victim to a "bank investigator" either by connecting them directly or asking them to hang up and call the number located on the back of their bank card. The victim will comply, again being unaware that the original caller has not actually disconnected.
Ultimately, the victim will be urged to attend their bank branch and immediately transfer funds to a specific account that is supposedly intended to safeguard their funds until the "investigation" is complete.
The scheme may vary in detail from person to person depending on the circumstances. The scheme appears to be directed at persons using their home-based phones. There is no particular phone provider associated to the victims. To date, five Toronto victims have suffered combined losses of over $5.1 million. Investigators believe there are other victims.
There is evidence to indicate that the scheme is being conducted nationwide and hundreds of thousands of people have been targeted. Furthermore, there is evidence to indicate that, in certain cases, the callers may already possess some of the banking particulars of the intended victim.
The public is reminded of the following:
- 9-1-1 is for emergencies where people or property are at risk. 9-1-1 call-takers will not forward your call to a police investigator
- if you are in doubt about the security of your personal funds, attend any branch of your financial institution and make enquiries in person
- financial institutions will NEVER advise you to transfer funds to external accounts for security reasons
- when contacted via phone by people claiming to be police officers, bank employees, or officials, take reasonable steps to ensure their claim is truthful
- do not assume that phone numbers appearing on call display screens are accurate. Readily available “call-spoofing” technology is frequently utilized by criminals to provide inaccurate caller information
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com, or text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637). Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App World.
For more news, visit TPSnews.ca.
Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu, Corporate Communications, for Detective Sergeant Ian Nichol, Financial Crimes