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Crime, News

New Toronto phone scam has already cost victims over $5 million

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Ainsley Smith Feb 09, 2018 11:14 am 2,654

There’s a new phone scam making its rounds in Toronto that has cost victims a combined loss of over $5.1 million.

According to the Toronto Police Service, members of the public have recently been contacted via phone by people posing as a retail worker at a local store who claims to be alerting them regarding a credit card fraud that is currently in progress.

After the initial conversation, the intended victim may be advised to dial 9-1-1 in order to alert police of the “credit card fraud” or they may be advised to contact their financial institution in order to protect their account.

When the victim hangs up to make the calls, they are under the impression that the original caller has disconnected, when they have actually remained on the line to pose as the 911 operator or bank employee.

The “call-taker” will speak to the victim and connect them to yet another imposter posing as a police investigator or will refer the victim to a “bank investigator” either by connecting them directly or asking them to hang up and call the number located on the back of their bank card.

The victim will comply, again being unaware that the original caller has not actually disconnected.

The victim is then informed by the imposter of an impending investigation and is urged to visit their bank and immediately transfer funds to a specific account that is supposedly intended to safeguard their funds until the “investigation” is complete.

According to police, the scheme may vary in detail from person to person, but it appears to target those with landline phones.

To date, investigators said the five victims of this investigation are in Toronto, but there’s evidence this scheme is being conducted nationwide and that hundreds of thousands of people have been targeted.

There is also evidence that indicates that, in certain cases, the callers may already possess some of the banking particulars of the intended victim.

The public is reminded of the following:

  • 9-1-1 is for emergencies where people or property are at risk. 9-1-1 call-takers will not forward your call to a police investigator.
  • If you are in doubt about the security of your personal funds, attend any branch of your financial institution and make enquiries in person.
  • Financial institutions will NEVER advise you to transfer funds to external accounts for security reasons.
  • When contacted via phone by people claiming to be police officers, bank employees, or officials, take reasonable steps to ensure their claim is truthful.
  • Do not assume that phone numbers appearing on call display screens are accurate. Readily available “call-spoofing” technology is frequently utilized by criminals to provide inaccurate caller information.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 416-808-7300, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477), or online at www.222tips.com.

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Ainsley Smith
Ainsley is a Staff Writer at Daily Hive. She's a former Vancouverite turned Torontonian who is passionate about avocado toast, aesthetics, and avocado toast aesthetics. Story idea? E-mail her at [email protected]
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