PONTIAC June 3, 2020
Police are warning the public, especially seniors, to be wary of a variety of scams and online extortion techniques that have been going on during the pandemic.
In a press release put out on May 25, they state that citizens should be wary of online ads for things like masks, protective equipment and other items at incredibly low prices. The statement also cautions against purchases made with items like pre-paid cards or cryptocurrency,
“If you do purchase anything online, make sure it’s a secure site,” said police spokesman Sgt. Marc Tessier. “It could be any type of card, Home Depot, Visa, Amazon, whatever. Be aware if someone asks you to pay for a service with those types of cards, it’s a red flag.”
He added that tracking down scammers who get their victims to pay with these cards is incredibly difficult.
Lila Galipeau, the front-end manager at Joanne’s Valu-mart in Shawville said that she has seen several instances of customers trying to purchase more than $500 in gift cards. She recounted on incident that took place last week, where a woman was trying to buy $1,000 worth of Google Play cards.
“One of my cashiers called me over because she noticed the red flag,” Galipeau said. “I spoke to the lady and I explained that we have had issues like this in the past, where people get calls from people posing as bank workers or family members ... and they tell them that if they don’t give them the numbers on the back of these gift cards that ... something bad will happen to them.”
She said that the staff are trained to look out for this kind of behaviour, and said that there’s been about five such incidents in the past few months. She added that some customers have responded badly and left the store to purchase the cards elsewhere, while others have listened to advice.
“It puts us in a difficult position too,” Galipeau said. “The latest outcome that we’ve had, I explained to the lady what had gone on in the past. She was very grateful and immediately went to the bank and talked to the employees ... What the scammers say to the customers really gets in their heads, this woman was shaking when I got to her.”
Citizens that have been approached or victimized by a scammer can report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (Antifraudcentre.ca or 1 888 495 8501). The website also provides an extensive list of different types of scams and extortion methods and tips for protecting your money and personal information.
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