Police warn of phone scammers posing as officers

Police are warning Vancouver and Toronto residents of a phone scam. (Getty)

Phone scammers are getting creative when it comes to the tactics they’re using to solicit funds from unsuspecting Canadians.

The fraudster are relying on caller ID spoofing to claim they’re from local police forces, so when they call, the contact appears on the phone as a police phone number.

Toronto police say that in recent weeks, several victims have been hit. One target paid the scammers $1,200 in Bitcoin, after being threatened with deportation if he didn’t pay. Another forked over $1,000 to avoid being arrested after being told her Social Insurance Number was being used for illegal activities.

Caroline de Kloet, media relations officer with Toronto Police, stresses that police will never phone anyone to ask for money or personal information.

“At no point is anyone asking information over the phone in regards to transferring money, or SIN number confirmation,” she told Yahoo Canada. “Even if there’s a police number on your call display, feel free to hang up and call that division or the number that came up. If you’re required for something, we can run your name through the system to see if there is or isn’t a warrant. But that’s not something that’s done over the phone.”

She also advises anyone who receives such a phone call to contact their local division on a non-emergency number.

Last week, police in Vancouver alerted the public about a new phone scam that uses the department’s non-emergency number and involves fraudsters claiming to be police officers.

Several Vancouver residents have reported the scammers, who call and say they are from Vancouver Police Department, or the Canada Revenue Agency regarding false debts. They then ask for Bitcoin or gift cards to pay off the fake outstanding charges.

In a press release, VPD Sergeant Aaron Roed stresses that the non-emergency police line is for residents to use to report incidents to the force, and citizens will never receive a call from that number. He also says that the police will never call people to solicit payments.

“We ask that if you receive a call like this, you hang up immediately and spread the word to friends and family,” he says.

This phone scam involves a person claiming to be from CRA, who asks the victim to look up and provide the number for the police department. The scammer hangs up and the victim then receives another call, which displays on the phone as the VDP non-emergency line. The person on the line then poses as a police officer, and relays a fake badge number. The victim is informed that their social insurance number has been used for credit card accounts that have considerable balances owing. They are then instructed to pay back the debt by sending Bitcoin or gift cards.

Police wants people to know that if they think they’ve been scammed, they can visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or call them toll free at 1-888-495-8501.

This story has been updated to include Toronto police’s information.