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Elk Valley RCMP urges public to be cautious of fraud

Elk Valley RCMP is warning you to stay alert to potential fraud after residents have been targeted by scammers.

Police officials said a fraud complaint came in from a Fernie resident on Wednesday after she had lost $6,000.

The woman said she was speaking with a Facebook friend over Messenger and received a link stating that she won $70,000.

RCMP officials said the woman provided her full name, address, date of birth and a photo of herself.

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Another stranger reached out shortly after and had her purchase $6,000 in gift cards through multiple transactions, claiming it was to be exchanged for $120,000.

“Later, after speaking with her friend directly, she realized that her friend’s account had been hacked and she had lost the funds she had sent to the suspect,” said Elk Valley RCMP. “Police advised her to reach out to Apple to see if the transaction could be disabled or returned to her.”

She was also advised to report the matter to Equifax or TransUnion Services and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, as she gave out her personal information.

This comes after Elk Valley RCMP received several reports of similar scams in recent weeks.

Officials said a popular method for the region is known as the “grandparents scam,” which involves a caller contacting an elderly person and claiming to be their grandchild.

The caller will then say they have been arrested or kidnapped, and they need money to be released.

Police said the caller can spoof their ID and make it appear as though the call is coming from a known or trusted source.

According to Elk Valley RCMP, another resident was defrauded over $20,000 after making payments for insurance and two work visas to work with exclusive individuals from Qatar.

“This suspect used a Facebook Profile page with a dramatic number (18,000 plus) followers to demonstrate their prowess and position, making it all the more real to the unfortunate victim,” said Elk Valley RCMP.

Police officials said there are several steps you can take to protect yourself against fraud.

“Protect your identity at all times, never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust, be assertive and ask questions, be alert for text scams and emails that ask you for your personal data, do not trust free downloads and requests for passwords and lastly, say no – delete a suspicious email/text and block the account it was sent from on your device,” said Elk Valley RCMP.

“The basic premises to combat fraud are – if it is too good to be true, it is; and, if you are unsure, stop what you are doing and speak with a person directly whom you trust – a family member or close friend,” police officials added.

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