Richmond RCMP has launched two initiatives aimed at combatting the “constant wave” of phone scams.
Through the initiatives, the RCMP will be reaching out to local businesses and potential victims.
“The idea…came about after a quick-thinking store employee prevented one of our officer’s parents from being defrauded,” said Cpl. Adriana Peralta.
“From that, we decided to start an education initiative that focuses on training employees and store owners to help them recognize and assist in preventing people from being scammed.”
The first initiative involves educating owners and employees of local businesses about scams, and some “key questions” to ask if anyone comes in to purchase a large sum of gift cards – particularly Google Play or iTunes cards.
Officers from the Community Policing Unit will be going door to door to businesses around Richmond to provide this information.
The information was also provided to anyone already registered on Richmond RCMP Business Link, a platform focused on educating businesses in crime prevention strategies.
Meanwhile, through the second anti-scam initiative – spearheaded by Richmond RCMP’s Economic Crime Unit – businesses can put up posters or stickers near bitcoin machines, gift card carrousels or tills.
The posters are designed to “catch the attention of potential victims,” according to the statement from Richmond RCMP.
The posters and stickers will also be distributed to businesses through the Business Link outreach program.
Fraudsters can be “very convincing,” according to Richmond RCMP, and use a “multitude of tactics to trick people.”
“Whether through charm or threats, these fraudsters are highly focused on achieving their end goal: getting people’s money,” reads the statement.
Imposter scams evolving
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warned last week that government imposter scams are “constantly evolving,” with scammers using “fear and intimidation” tactics in order to get victims to turn over personal information or money.
Usually, victims are asked to pay money in the form of gift cards or cryptocurrency.
Scammers may “insist” they are law enforcement officers and threaten to immediately arrest people if they don’t pay up, according to the BBB. In other cases, scammers may tell victims their Social Insurance Number has been compromised, or threaten to deport recent immigrants or arrest people for improperly filing their taxes.
Scammers may also pose as government agencies, for example, the Public Health Agency of Canada, BC Health Services and Canada Revenue Agency.
The Richmond RCMP says to “hang up immediately” if someone claiming to be from a government agency asks for bitcoin, Google Play or iTunes gift cards as a method of payment.
“No government agency would accept these methods of payments,” RCMP said in the release.
Police are also say people should be cautious of businesses that request any of these forms of payment.
“While some legitimate businesses may accept bitcoin, none accept Google Play or iTunes gift cards,” reads the statement.
“Prior to sending any form of payment, Richmond RCMP recommend you do your due diligence, research the company to confirm its legitimate or visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online for more information on tips and ways to protect yourself from being scammed.”
Anyone who has been a victim of these frauds or suspects someone is trying to scam them is urged to contact their local police.