NT RCMP are investigating a fraud in which a citizen was convinced to send several thousand dollars worth of gift cards online. In November, a man from a small community in the NWT was contacted via Facebook Messenger and told he won a cash prize. He was told that in order to retrieve the prize, he would be required to purchase gift cards and send the pin to a suspect online. The victim was convinced this was legitimate and did so, resulting in a personal financial loss of several thousand dollars. The RCMP are not disclosing which community the victim is in to protect his identity, and because this type of occurrence can happen anywhere.
There have been numerous variations of this scam surface in the NWT over the past few years. In some cases, like this one, the suspect convinces the victim to send cards (or money) to facilitate payment of a larger cash prize. In other cases, the suspect will obtain employment details of a subject using an online phishing technique and pose as the persons’ boss and create a sense of urgency to purchase the cards and send the information right away.
NT RCMP are reminding people that if you are solicited to buy gift cards or send money to someone outside your circle of family and very close friends, it is very likely a scam. You should never reveal the pin number of a gift card to anyone you do not know, or online. The RCMP also urges business owners to be alert to this scam, and question customers who are buying large amounts of gift cards, to make sure the person is not the unsuspecting victim of a fraud.
“This type of fraud is easy to prevent, but very difficult to investigate, as the suspects are often from other countries. Therefore it is imperative to be alive to these types of scams and all work together as a community to prevent this type of needless financial loss” advises Staff Sergeant Dean Riou of the NT RCMP Federal Investigations Unit.
Frauds and scams come in all different shapes and sizes. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has many examples and descriptions on their website, you can also reach them at 1-888-495-8501. Anyone with information on fraud or any other criminal activity is asked to call Yellowknife RCMP at 669-1111.