Strathcona County, Alta. – March is National Fraud Prevention month and the Strathcona County RCMP would like residents to be aware of some common online scams.
Gift Card Scams/Business Email Compromise:
This scam involves a scammer either gaining access to an email account of a trusted friend/family/co-worker, or by creating a nearly identical email account. The scammer will then email the victim, pretending to be their boss/family/friend, and ask them to purchase gift cards. The scammer will come up with a plausible story as to why the gift cards need to be purchased. Once the gift cards are purchased, the victims are told to send pictures of the redemption/activation codes. Similar scams will sometimes involve the sending of money to an account that is different from the account they normally use.
Anyone requesting funds in the form of gift cards is likely trying to defraud you. Scammers will often make the situation seem urgent, which is a pressure tactic. If you're ever asked to purchase gift cards via email correspondence it is prudent to confirm with the other party that they are who they say they are, either by phone or preferably in person.
Remote Access Scams:
This scam involves victims receiving a pop-up window on their computer advising them that their computer is infected with a virus and to contact the phone number in the window. The scammer on the other end of the phone will pretend to be an employee of a company (for example Microsoft), or sometimes even a bank representative or law enforcement. They will ask the victim to download software that allows the criminal remote access into the victim's computer. Once remote access is obtained the criminal can potentially install malware, steal personal documents, and access bank accounts.
These type of pop-ups are always a scam. If you're still unsure you can contact the supposed company/agency through their legitimate business phone numbers which can be found by using an internet search engine. Never allow anyone access to your computer unless you've done your due diligence and are sure the person has a valid reason to access your computer. If you suspect your computer has been compromised, the safest thing to do would be to seek out a reputable computer repair business in your area.
Buy and Sell Online Scams:
This scam involves online selling platforms such as Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace. Typically, this occurs when the scammer is requesting deposits for items that are ultimately never delivered. Scammers will sometimes even provide pickup addresses or locations to meet after a deposit is sent in an attempt to appear more legitimate.
If you are selling an item online, be aware that scammers will attempt to leave you without your item by claiming to be located out of town and offering to buy the item unseen. They may offer above the asking price or offer to pay shipping to have the item delivered. When it comes time to pay, they will use various tactics to avoid paying or their payment will bounce after the item if out of your hands. Ensure you meet with the person at a safe public location and verify that their payment is legitimate before turning over your item.
The Strathcona County RCMP would like to remind residents of the Safe Internet Exchange Zone located in the detachment front parking lot. It is a great place to meet and exchange online purchases safely.
If you believe you, may be the victim of fraud or have given personal or financial information unwittingly, contact the Strathcona County RCMP Detachment at 780-467-7741.