RCMP warn of scammers this holiday season — tips to protect your money and belongings

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Nanaimo RCMP are warning citizens to be aware of theft and scams this holiday season after a women lost $6,000 to a scam call.

The women, in her 70s, was phoned by someone claiming to be her grandson on Dec. 4. Police said the man claimed he was in an accident in Quebec, was in jail and needed money for bail. He told the woman not to tell his parents about it. She went to withdrew the money from an ATM and sent it to the scammer.

RCMP said before making any financial commitments over the phone, people should ask several personal questions to confirm the caller’s identity. 

Police are also providing tips to prevent parcel theft after a package was stolen within minutes of delivery from a Nanaimo home. On Dec. 3. a neighbour told police a white Jeep pulled into a driveway just minutes after a courier company dropped the parcel at the front door. The suspect driver grabbed the parcel and drove away. The only description provided was that the suspect had dark skin and was possibly of Middle Eastern descent, according to police.

“These are just two scams that can have a financial and emotional impact,” said Const. Gary O’Brien of the Nanaimo RCMP.

Police said it is best not to have bulk items or parcels delivered when you are not home, but rather to arrange a secondary pickup location or have them delivered when you are home.

“Criminals have been anxiously honing their craft in anticipation of the holiday season and as in years past, they will not will not miss any sleep or even a blink of the eye, when they steal your treasured gifts and hard earned cash. Do not let this happen to you,” said O’Brien in a media release.

Police warned when shopping online, to ensure you are on the real website. Online criminals will make websites that mirror real companies, according to RCMP — double check the web address before purchasing anything.

Scammers may contact, requesting donations to local charities, including for COVID-19, RCMP said. The charity may not even exist or the scammer may not be associated to it — to avoid this, ask for information in writing to confirm the charity. You can check that it is a registered non-profit charity by calling the Canada Revenue Agency or online.

Police said if people receive a phone call saying their social insurance number has been compromised or have outstanding unpaid taxes and are threatened or told that you will be arrested, simply hang up.

You only need to contact your local police agency if you have lost money or you were tricked into providing confidential personal information that could compromise your identity. If this does not apply to you, simply report the interaction to theCanadian Anti- Fraud Centreat the web address provided above, O’Brien said.

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