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Phone gift-card scam costs Nanaimo resident $15,000

In the scam, a fraudster claiming to work for a bank, credit-card company, utility or the Canada Revenue Agency tells the target to purchase gift cards at set locations to pay off a debt or taxes.
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Nanaimo RCMP said more people would have lost money if not for the intervention of “astute and informed” employees of local businesses.

A Nanaimo resident recently lost $15,000 to a telephone scam involving purchase of gift cards, a recurring fraud that continues to snag victims, say Nanaimo RCMP.

In the scam, a fraudster claiming to work for a bank, credit-card company, utility or the Canada Revenue Agency tells the target their credit card has been compromised, or that they have an outstanding tax bill that has to be paid right away.

The target is told to purchase gift cards at set locations to pay off the debt or taxes.

After the cards are purchased, the fraudster calls back at a specified time and asks for the 10-digit code on the back of each card, which allows them to activate the cards to get money from them.

“To protect yourself against this scam, there is just one thing that people need to know,” police said. “Legitimate companies will NEVER EVER ask you to settle a debt or pay taxes through the purchase of gift cards. It’s as simple as that.”

Another person lost close to $1,500 to the scam, police said, and more would have lost money if not for the intervention of “astute and informed” employees of local businesses.

For more information on current scams, contact your local police or go to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.

jbell@timescolonist.com