Frauds work because they prey on victims’ honest and trusting nature

Posted On Tuesday June 15, 2021

Some scams sound too good to be true with an easy-money windfall, others exploit your love for your family and then there are scammers who go after your honest nature and desire to help. That’s what happened earlier this month to a senior Ottawa resident, when he was asked to help his bank catch a credit card fraudster.

“Everyone thinks they won’t fall for a scam, but these people are incredibly convincing,” says Cst. Andrew Worth, who investigated the incident. “First, they asked if the resident had made certain credit card purchases and, sure enough, he hadn’t, because they made them up. When the scammers told him, he wouldn’t have to pay the costs, they immediately gained his trust.”

The fraudsters then asked him to help catch the fraudster.

He was given a security number to provide each time the phony bank representative called him, so they could be sure of his identity. “The fact they were being so cautious further gained the resident’s trust,” says Cst. Worth. “It felt like an extra layer of security and sounded authentic. It never occurred to him they made it up, because he’s honest and wanted to help.”

Another tactic used by the scammers was to call relentlessly. “They called hourly during the day for three days. They gave him instructions to follow, insisting he not tell anyone he was helping them and convinced him again how valuable his help was to catch the thief whenever he had second thoughts.”

The resident sent a money wire transfer and purchased several thousand dollars-worth of Google gift cards at local pharmacies before a family member called police. Cst. Worth prevented the man from turning over the gift card codes from the most recent purchase to the scammers, but it was too late to stop the wire transfer.  

“This man has financial savvy,” says Cst. Worth, “which shows how manipulative scammers are. We’re sharing this story to show these aren’t simple tricks people are falling for, they are complex, well-planned scams.”

Cst. Worth has these tips to help prevent you from being scammed:

  • Never confirm any personal information over the phone.
  • A bank will not ask you to use money from your account to help trap a scammer.
  • Always verify who is calling. Don’t use the number given by the caller, use 411 or the Internet to get the phone number and do your own checking.
  • Don’t be pressured. Take some time to process what you have been told, to see if it makes sense. Ask a trusted friend or family member for their opinion, or if in doubt, call your local police service.
  • Make sure you, and elderly family members or friends, are aware of current scams and how they work. You can get information from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

As well, banks and stores should be on the lookout for these types of transactions and question them.

June is Seniors Month in Ontario. Be sure to check on elderly family members, friends and neighbours regularly, so they don’t fall prey to would-be fraudsters.