Editorial: Scammers don’t rest

Scam phone calls and emails are everywhere – but many can’t identify them and fall victim as a result

One of our reporters was a recent recipient of a suspicious call.

The number on call display wasn’t one she recognized, but when she played back the message, she heard an automated voice telling her she owed money to the Canada Revenue Agency and that if she didn’t take action, she’d be incarcerated.

As a savvy millennial, she was able to quickly dismiss the call as a fake, having seen reports of similar scams in the news. The call was subject to some mirth in the office as it was pointed out the message didn’t even fully make sense; the scammer hadn’t used correct English syntax for its robot-voiced threats.

But all too often the people who are targeted, and who fall victim, to these scams are more vulnerable folk, including the elderly, who may not have read up on the latest scam in a news article online.

Our editor was visiting the local RCMP detachment one afternoon a few months ago for a story, and a woman approached the front counter in a considerable amount of distress. She had a caller on the line on her cell phone who was telling her a similar story, threatening that he would be throwing her in jail if she didn’t pay up. She half believed she was talking to a representative from the CRA, and had brought the call in to the RCMP seeking help.

The woman manning the RCMP desk took the call from the distressed citizen and essentially told the scammer where to go (not in so many words, but with conviction), and then had the task of calming down this poor woman, who had been genuinely worried she owed money and was about to be thrown in jail.

Scam emails and calls come in many forms – scammers pretend to be the government, bank branches, PayPal, or a representative claiming you’ve won a prize. They will usually ask for personal information or bank details.

Please know: your bank and the government would never do these things. If in doubt, hang up and call the institution back.

It’s easy for the tech-savvy or skeptical among us to dismiss these scammers. Delete the email, hang up the phone, laugh about how stupid they are.

But it’s not so easy for others who may be new to email or who trust the voice on the other end of the phone.

It’s why these scams, no matter how ubiquitous they’ve become, need to continue to be reported to the police, as well as being reported in the media, via both web and print mediums.

The more information put out there, the fewer vulnerable people who will fall victim to these crimes, emptying their savings into someone else’s pocket, believing they are saving themselves from a future behind bars.

Quesnel Cariboo Observer

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