As the cash payouts from the Residential Schools Compensation fund have poured money into aboriginal communities across Canada, con artists and scam operators around the world have closely followed as they now have a new demographic to target, aboriginals.
There have already been several news stories of communities in Western and Central Canada suddenly being approached by salespeople and telemarketers for everything from cars to vacations to loans that sound too good to be true. Even the Nation is not immune, having already been approached for a fraudulent puppy scam that is well known to the RCMR More than ever, this all means it is important to be informed and vigilant.
According to Corporal Louis Robertson of the RCMP’s Criminal Intelligence Analytical Unit who works with PhoneBusters, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Call Centre, “If it’s too good to be true, guess what? It’s a scam.”
Cpl. Robertson said the unit is presently monitoring 29 different varieties of scams, not including identity theft frauds.
The largest one running in Canada at the moment involves cheque fraud where individuals are approached either via regular mail, email or telephone and told that they have won some variety of lottery. In it, the targeted individuals will be asked for their personal information, including their Social Insurance Number. From there the individual will be sent a fraudulent cheque, one that may have been made from a stolen corporate cheque from a recognized institution.
The individual is asked to deposit the check at their bank but at the same time send a second cheque to cover the “administrative fees” or “brokerage” or whatever other imaginary fees the scam entails back to the sender, usually totalling around 50 per cent of the amount they have “won.”
Of course, the cheque bounces and, said Robertson, “once that money is sent away, they will never see that money again.” Having already given away their personal information, the victim may also be victimized a second time around in terms of identity theft.
Lottery scams are not the only game in town as Robertson also warned of many instances where individuals have been targeted for cash from people they have met on Internet dating websites. Though these individuals might seem like the perfect mate at first, they will frequently solicit their victims to help them pay for a visit or for money for a sick relative.
“It is only after they have sucked all of the money out of you, you finally come to the realization that you have been scammed,” said Robertson.
“Investment schemes are another one,” he said, warning those who will be receiving the settlement funds as “you are going to have to be careful there because people know that they have that money.”
If an investment firm that you are unfamiliar with approaches you with promises that sound too good to be true and the example Robertson gave was of something astronomical like a 200 per cent profit, he advises that they be turned away.
“These kinds of returns do not exist. It’s impossible to get 200 per cent,” he warned.
Robertson advises that those seeking to make investments of any variety should do so through their bank or Caisse populaire and if they are interested in making investments outside of a recognized financial institution, to inquire about the institution through their bank. If your bank advises against it, do not do it under any circumstances. In the same vein, “never, never ever invest money on the Internet,” said Robertson.
Even when it comes to investing through someone you do know that is not affiliated with a bank, Robertson advises against it.
He told the story of a local man from Arnprior, Ontario, who started up his own investment firm in the community with the only problem being that he had a gambling problem. “Everyone lost their money because he gambled their shares away,” said Robertson.
To contact PhoneBusters to inquire about a particular scam or report one go to www.phonebusters.com or call 1-888-495-8501.