Victoria police investigate rash of cyber crimes, from lottery 'fee' to romance scam

Victoria police are warning the public to be on guard for cyber-criminals after a rash of incidents over the last week cost victims $5,400.

Cyber criminals, who have been more active than usual during the pandemic, managed to steal money from four Victoria residents this week in four separate online scams.

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Police are still investigating the cases, but warn the victims are unlikely to recoup their losses.

One victim lost $1,400 after a scammer convinced them to pay a fee to access money they had “won.” The victim sent the money by wire transfer before realizing they had been scammed.

Police issued a reminder that anyone who asks you to pay money for lottery or other winnings is trying to scam you.

Another victim lost $2,700 to a romance scam. The fraudster met the victim on the Finally dating app for mature singles, and after establishing a relationship, convinced the victim to send money to help cover funeral expenses for an unexpected death in the family.

As soon as the victim transferred the money, the scammer disappeared and deleted his profile on the app.

Another victim was taken for $500 in a Google Play scam, in which the scammer convinced the victim to grant access to their computer to deal with a spam infection. While screen-sharing with the victim, the scammer focused on banking information and convinced the victim to purchase Google Play cards, take pictures of the information on the back of the cards and send the pictures to the scammer.

Once the information on the back of the cards is shared, the money is gone. The information is often resold on online marketplaces for crypto currencies.

On Valentine’s Day, a senior was victimized by a scammer who convinced them to send $900 to access a line of credit. The scammer also compromised the senior’s personal information and bank accounts and would likely have attempted to steal more if the senior had not called police.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, there have been 4,833 reports of fraud in Canada so far this year, resulting in losses of more than $10 million. Since the pandemic began, there have been more than 11,500 reports of COVID-related fraud resulting in victims losing $7 million.

Victoria police advise anyone who believes they are the victim of fraud to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or report online at antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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