North Vancouver RCMP are warning residents about a scam involving fake smartphones being sold to “unsuspecting buyers.”
According to police, victims connect online with an individual who claims to be re-selling a name brand smartphone below market-price.
“The seller will have some sort of believable story as to why they are re-selling the phone at a discount rather than returning themselves,” said RCMP in a release.
The seller will offer to meet the buyer in a public place, showing up with the phone.
Cpl. Alex Bojic, of North Vancouver’s Economic Crime Unit, says the “phones are extremely realistic looking.”
“They often come vacuum sealed in what appears to be authentic packaging, complete with a bar code from a local business and a matching receipt. If the buyer opens the package, they’ll find the phone comes with all of the components, accessories, and manuals. The phone powers up as normal to a home screen that looks legit.”
The customer only realizes something is wrong with the phone after they take it home and starts opening individual settings and applications.
There is also a risk that the scammer has pre-loaded the phone with malware in attempts to steal the buyer’s data.
Since the beginning of 2019, the North Vancouver RCMP has confiscated at least 15 counterfeit smartphones.
“There are strategies that you can use to protect yourself from online fraud,” says Bojic. “But the best strategy when buying a smartphone is to stick with trusted retailers.”
Anyone who has been a victim of this kind of scam is encouraged to contact their local police.