Calgary Police warning people to be wary of bank fraud scammers

Jul 22 2019, 8:18 pm

The Calgary Police Service is warning citizens to be mindful of a recurring trend of suspicious phone calls from scammers posing as bank officials.

While such scams have been seen before, what makes this different is that scammers are relying on old technology to fool unsuspecting victims.

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Instead of a cell phone, scammers are now catching potential victims on landlines.

Landlines allow for a phone call connection to remain live even if one person hangs up, whereas cell phone connections are immediately terminated if one person ends the call.

In 2018, CPS saw a 60% increase in the amount of money lost to these kinds of scams from 2017 to 2018, with a reported loss of more than $640,000.

So far in 2019, there have been 17 reported cases of bank fraud phone scams resulting in a loss of more than $73,000.

Here’s how the scam works, according to the Calgary Police Service (CPS) press release:

While on the line with the victim, the scammer instructs them to make purchases using their debit or credit card, usually of gift cards, to help the “bank” determine which activity on the account is “genuine” and which is “fraudulent.”

If the victim challenges the scammer or questions the validity of the call, the scammer may ask the victim to look on the back of their bank card for a phone number, which is a customer service number for the credit or debit card company.

The victim is told to hang up and immediately call that number. On landlines, if one party doesn’t hang up, the connection doesn’t terminate.

This feature is the twist to the scam that fraudsters are relying on, as landlines allow the scammer to remain on the line and listen to the victim dial the number.

The scammer “answers” as the bank or as the “account investigator.”

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The CPS advises everyone to remember that a legitimate financial institution will never call a person and seek their assistance in conducting an investigation, neither will legitimate businesses ask for gift cards as methods of payments.

For more tips on how to stay safe, and how to deal with phone scammers, click here.