An Okanagan woman was duped into believing she was helping a fraud investigation, but the people who convinced her to help turned out to be fraudsters themselves.
Now she’s out nearly $40,000.
“It’s been hard to live with this,” she told Global News. “Knowing that I was scammed big time.”
The Kelowna woman, who wants to remain anonymous, has come forward to share her story, hoping it’ll prevent others from also falling victim.
“So that others you know, are aware of how easy you can fall into that trap,” she said.
It all started in mid-May when she got a phone call from a someone claiming to be from the fraud department at her financial institution. She said he was very convincing.
“I totally trusted him,” she said. “I believed everything he told me.”
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He called himself Charlie and told her that her credit card had been compromised.
“He asked me if I wanted to be involved in the investigation to catch these people that were compromising my credit card,” she said.
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She agreed to help and at ‘Charlie’s’ request, as well as another man’s, who identified himself as a police officer, she downloaded numerous software applications to her computer.
Police believe that gave the fraudsters access to her online banking information.
As part of the supposed fraud investigation, she was then instructed to go buy Google Play cards.
She purchased $38,000 worth of the cards and provided Charlie with their activation codes.
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“He said they would be putting money into my account and he showed me the bank balance on my computer and my account kept going up,” she said.
That prompted her to go along with the scammer’s next request –withdrawing $40,000 from her bank account and shipping it to an address in Vancouver using Purolator.
Charlie told her again that it was part of the fraud investigation.
“So they could catch, you know, the guy that was scamming. And so I did,” she said.
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But the day after shipping the cash, she went to her bank and realized it was all a big scam.
She immediately called police, who helped retrieve the parcels before they arrived at their intended destination.
“Those two packages were intercepted by the RCMP federal serious and organized crime section,” said Kelowna RCMP Cpl. Jesse O’Donaghey.
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Police are now reminding the public to be careful, especially when dealing with people over the phone.
“We think it’s very important for the general public to be aware of these types of scams and to ensure they know exactly who they are dealing with over the phone,” O’Donaghey said.
“We would encourage them if they are dealing with an individual who identifies themselves as a police officer to take steps to confirm their identity.”
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The victim in this latest scam was able to get the $40,000 back, but she’s still out $38,000 from purchasing the Google Play cards.
It’s a loss she hopes others learn from.
“That’s the reason I’m here,” she told Global News, “is so that others, you know, are aware of how easy you can fall into that trap.”