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Barrie police warn residents of phone, online and door-to-door scams

Over the past few weeks, police say they've seen some unique twists in well-established scams that they've been warning the public about for years. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

Barrie police are warning residents of potential phone, online and door-to-door scams.

Over the past few weeks, police say they’ve seen some unique twists in well-established scams that they’ve been warning the public about for years.

According to police, in one recent scam, an advertisement was placed online to rent a house.

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Two potential renters responded to the advertisement and paid a deposit, police say. Afterward, they found out that the property was not owned by the person to whom they paid the deposit, officers add.

A 43-year-old Barrie woman has since been charged, police say. The victims, however, are still out of the money they gave her.

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In another instance, police say there was a twist to the Canada Revenue Agency scam that’s existed for years.

In this scam, a person answered a phone call from someone claiming to be from the CRA, who told them they owed money based on a recent tax return review, police say.

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According to officers, the caller told the victim to purchase a number of Google Play gift cards, which they did, and to attend a Bitcoin ATM in a Barrie area convenience store.

Once the victim arrived at the store, they used a bar code that was sent by text message and money to complete the transaction, police say.

Officers are reminding the public that Google Play gift cards are used to make purchases for apps or music on Google Play. The gift cards should never be used to make purchases beyond the realm of Google, police say.

WATCH: 4,000 victims have reported losses over $15.2 M over CRA scams: RCMP

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Scammers can also act by knocking on residents’ doors, police say, so people shouldn’t open the door unless they’re expecting someone or recognize the individual.

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According to police, scammers will often strike when people least expect them to — early in the morning, during dinner or late in the evening. Scammers will also work in the evenings, on long weekends and holidays, officers say.

If people receive a message from a person that they don’t recognize through email or phone, they shouldn’t respond, police say.

Scammers have often created and perfected a scenario that will cause people to act and react, police say, adding that the approach leaves people with little time to realize what’s happening before it’s too late.

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If you ever receive a call from someone claiming to be from the CRA or from your bank, police say you should hang up. If you ever doubt the validity of any of the calls, officers say you should call CRA or the bank directly.

By never sharing any personal information, including bank numbers, credit cards, social insurance numbers and driver’s licences, people can take steps to protect themselves from fraud, police add.

Police say people can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) at 1-888-495-8501 for more information.

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