Two victims of a bank scam in Abbotsford recently lost a total of approximately $46,000.
Const. Art Stele, a media officer with the Abbotsford Police Department, said the two fell prey to a scam in which the victims are sent links or texts that, when clicked, install malware on their mobile devices and then provide both the usernames and passwords for their bank accounts.
The scammers can then view recent transactions and account information, Stele said.
The fraudsters then call the victims by phone – usually early in the morning – claiming to be employees of the victim’s bank, and ask if they have made a recent purchase of gift cards.
When they respond no, the scammers then list off recent legitimate transactions in the victims’ bank records as a means of gaining trust.
“The scammers then convince the victims to purchase Mastercard gift cards and provide the scammers with the security codes,” Stele said.
He said the victims are also instructed to withdraw significant amounts from their bank account and deposit the money into a Bitcoin machine, resulting in the funds being unrecoverable.
Stele said the suspects use VOIP calling and VPNs to hide the number they are calling from, which is usually a country that has no extradition treaty with Canada, making it impossible to pinpoint the location of the call and the actual number that is used to call.
He said victims are advised to call their banks prior to making any withdrawals/deposits or proceeding to give out any personal information.
“We are informing the residents of Abbotsford of this scam to create awareness and to thwart fraudulent schemes taking advantage of the residents of our community,” Stele said.
“We urge the public to be vigilant with messages and links they receive on their mobile device and not to give out personal information and transfer funds to unknown sources.”