Expert insight from the security industry's thought leaders.
As we have shared across our social network, @PaladinSecurity and @PaladinMikeL on Twitter, there has been a steady increase in various types of scams across Canada this year. While the sophistication of these scams is low, the payoff for criminals is high and always growing.
Generally speaking, most of these scams are conducted by organized crime, which isn’t always what we envision. Its true definition is; 'A group having at least three members, taking some action in concert, together or in some coordinated manner, for the purpose of committing a serious crime, and obtaining a financial or other benefit.'
Phone scams continue to top the list as the most popular to target individuals and small business. The Hydro telephone scam has been circulating for some time now, where a scammer threatens to disconnect service if outstanding payment is not made on the account by a 'pre-paid gift card'. The caller asks the customer to purchase a gift card and call back with the number on the back of the card; thereby pocketing the cost. If call display is available, it may very well show that the call originates from your local hydro provider through what is known as 'phone spoofing'. If you receive a suspicious call, immediately contact your local service provider directly; not the number provided by the caller.
The Revenue Canada Tax Scam is a close runner-up in frequency. It tends to circulate during tax time; however, the success rate for fraudsters appears to be so high that it can pop up at any time. In this case, the caller advises that the customer’s business or personal remittances are not paid, and demands payment immediately or the customer will face arrest by police. The callers tend to be quite aggressive and have been known to use forceful language to scare taxpayers into paying a phony debt. Essentially, the callers indicate that if the customer does not deal with the debt immediately over the phone, they are going to jail. Phone spoofing is again quite common here and customers can expect to see an actual Revenue Canada Contact telephone number on their call display. Again, call Revenue Canada directly with any queries.
Email scams also continue to top the charts, better known as 'Nigerian 419 Chain Letter Scams' as the first wave of these scams originated from Nigeria and the 419 refers to a section of the country’s criminal code which outlaws the practice. Victims generally receive an email indicating that they have won a prize and will receive a cheque. They are asked to cash the cheque and remit a percentage to the sender in order to receive the remainder of their 'million dollar' winnings. Don't fall for it - in general, if it seems too good to be true, unfortunately, it probably is.
Due to the growing success rate of these scams, we don’t anticipate them slowing down and, with the rise in technology, fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated. Police seem to be making some headway in investigations; however, it proves difficult as most scams originate outside Canada.
Generally speaking, local hydro providers and Revenue Canada indicate that they do not collect credit card or bank account information over the telephone and neither takes payment via gift cards. The best prevention tips are never to send money, banking information or copies of personal documents to anyone you don’t trust.
If you fall victim to any of these crimes and need more information, don’t hesitate to call our investigators in Paladin's Security Investigations & Risk Management division. Our goal is to lessen and limit your exposure to risk!
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