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Renfrew County resident loses $50,000 in phone spoof scam, OPP say

(Source: Tero Vesalainen/iStock / Getty Images Plus) (Source: Tero Vesalainen/iStock / Getty Images Plus)

Ontario Provincial Police are issuing a new warning about extortion scams after a resident in Renfrew County was cheated out of more than $50,000.

OPP said in a news release Monday it is investigating a phone spoofing fraud, in which a resident received several calls from numbers purporting to be federal government departments and the OPP. The victim was led to convert their cash into bitcoins at a bitcoin ATM.

Police said that in 2022 alone, victims of extortion frauds reported losing more than $19 million.

"Extortion scams are the most common type of fraud where impersonation tactics are used. In these scams, consumers and businesses can be contacted via phone, email and/or text message by fraudsters posing as police officers, government agents, bank employees and hydro company officials," police said.

The scams come in a variety of forms. Some examples include fraudsters lying about your social insurance number being "compromised" or claiming to be from the Canada Border Services Agency, saying a package addressed to you was intercepted and contains "illegal substances." Other scams lie and say "suspicious charges" were found on your credit card. Sometimes, the scam involves gaining access to your computer and concocting a fake transaction on an online banking page, claiming to deposit funds into your account that must then be sent elsewhere for an "investigation" but all that happens is your money is sent to the fraudsters.

The common thread in these scams is the demand for personal information, such as credit card numbers, SIN, date of birth, name, address, and banking information.

Police say there are several ways to protect yourself from fraud:

  • Fraudsters manipulate caller ID to display phone numbers starting with your area code. They may also display the legitimate phone number of these agencies. This is called "Call-Spoofing" and this technology is easily available
  • No government agency will contact you and tell you that your SIN is blocked
  • Never provide personal information over the phone to an unknown caller.
  • Do not assume that phone numbers appearing on call display are accurate.
  • Be wary of automated calls asking you to dial 1 to speak with an officer.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre also has information on how to protect yourself from scams.

Anyone who suspects they have been the victim of cybercrime or fraud should report it to their local police and to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre's online reporting system or by phone at 1-888-495-8501. If not a victim, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre anyway, police say. Top Stories

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