Nanaimo RCMP wants to warn residents and businesses about three scams that have popped up in the new year.
A Nanaimo resident reported on Feb. 2 that his computer froze and a Microsoft alert appeared on the screen. Then a warning appeared that someone was attempting to steal a large sum of money out of his bank accounts.
A “help-line” phone number appeared on the screen and he called for assistance. He spoke to someone who said they were fixing the problem, but actually gained total control over his computer.
The fake technician told him he could appease the hackers by purchasing gift cards for them. Realizing he was being scammed, the owner turned off his computer. He went to his bank to ensure his accounts were secure, and although the fraudster had changed all the passwords, no one had removed any money from the accounts. The owner then had his computer wiped clean by a computer specialist.
Credit card investigative unit
A Nanaimo resident reported on Feb. 2 he received a call from someone pretending to work for the Mastercard Investigation Unit.
He was told his credit card had been compromised and he needed to purchase pre-paid credit cards to help catch the person responsible.
The man provided the card numbers, expiry dates and security codes to the thief. He told police that as he was buying the cards, staff warned he might be the victim of a scam. On the advice of his friends, he called the police, but the thief had already used the funds.
A Nanaimo computer store notified police on Jan. 20 that someone had purchased multiple Mac laptops using fraudulent “Flexiticards.” Flexiti is a Canadian company that allows clients to buy online or in-person with retailers.
“It can happen to any of us,” said Const. Sherri Wade. “We are busy, we click on a link that we shouldn’t, we give personal information to people who are skilled in tricking us. I would encourage people to go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website. The website provides up-to-date information on the most recent scams, how to protect yourself and if you become a victim of a scam, how to report it.”