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Vancouver Island, do you know a fraud when you see it?

March is Fraud Awareness Month and police are teaching people to recognize the signs
Saanich Police warn of fraud as they’ve received 97 reports of fraud cases in 2024 so far. (Pixabay photo)

Would you know fraud when you see it?

Too many people don’t, and that’s why Vancouver Island police are using fraud month as an opportunity to implement the philosophy of being forewarned is being forearmed.

Saanich Police Cst. Berle Zwaan teaches people how to recognize the red flags if they’re being targeted in a scam.

The officer explained the main types of scams fall into the three categories: the hope of benefit, natural willingness to help and evoking fear scams. Zwaan gave a few of the most recent scams she’s seen people fall victim to.

“The ‘I love you’ scams, that’s the hope of benefit one and the fear one is you owe taxes or you’ll be arrested or you’re in trouble. Then the natural willingness to help is, ‘help us catch these crooked bank employees, be our secret shopper,’ those kinds of things. They’re all designed to manipulate your emotions and prevent you from thinking rationally and make you take actions that you normally wouldn’t.”

Older people are the most vulnerable demographic to scams according to the Canadian anti-fraud.

“Seniors are specifically targeted and probably are about at least 80 per cent of our victims in the scams that we receive reports on,” said the officer.

Zwaan also warned of a recent scam text she called “sadly effective” as it’s going around asking recipients to pay off a speeding infraction violation ticket. She found out about the scam through one of the Saanich police’s summer students from last year who phoned her in a panic saying ‘I just got this text message and I’m scared.”

The fraud text tells the recipient that they’ve been caught speeding in a school zone with a link attachment to a website disguised to look like the B.C. government’s according to Saanich Police.

“It’s very crafty created to make it look real, but it’s not real at all,” stated Zwaan.

The officer reassured the student that it was only a fear-evoking scam and told him to watch for the signs.

READ MORE: Lookalike B.C. government website scam targets drivers with fake fines

One of the tips Zwaan gave to prevent scams is to take a step back and think rationally.

“Most people wouldn’t fall for it if they have the time to really slow down and think about what they’re going to do. But the scammer is intending to make you fearful, make you scared and make you have to act right now. And really nothing in the world is so urgent that you have to act right now. There’s always time to slow down and breathe.”

Zwaan also encourages doing research and asking a trusted person to see what they think.

Saanich Police say 97 fraud cases have been reported in 2024 so far.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Saanich section of Galloping Goose reopens after police incident

About the Author: Ella Matte

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