The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has said that around 200 victims have fallen for scams leading to a combined loss of more than $2.2 million. The worst thing is that there are likely many more victims, who have either not reported yet, or haven’t identified their loss yet. It is believed that only one in 20 victims report such crimes, which leads us to think this is a much larger issue.
How the text message scam works
The scammers send a text message or email about a job that will bring you a few hundred dollars a week. The job is usually a simple one, and once people sign on the scammers send you a counterfeit cheque for the amount that is much bigger than what you were supposed to receive. They then contact you and tell you it was a mistake and that you can keep a small portion and send the rest of the money to another account which belongs to them.
This is why many people fall for the scam. It looks legitimate, and even looks like the money is already in your bank, so why not forward it right? But if you forward the money they ask for, that would be the biggest financial mistake you have ever made.
Remember we said the cheque was a counterfeit one? That is the main thing to remember. It was not real funds that reflected in your account. Financial institutions can take weeks to detect this type of cheque fraud and by then your scammer already is already in procession of the funds. It also means that you are responsible for the amount of the cheque and the funds you send the scammer.
Scams like these have multiple victims at the same time and a huge murky web of bank account connections. These scams don’t just target individuals but companies too. Counterfeit cheques if undetected initially can wreck havoc on a company’s financials. An Ontario based company received around $80,000 in cheques before it discovered they were counterfeit. The firm was reimbursed but if not caught quickly it could be difficult to trace the transaction. Small companies can stay on top of such scams by keeping all their financial books updated.
Another way to stay away from such scams is to ignore any fishy emails and messages you get. The scammers can be very difficult to track and have different email address and phone numbers. They will also be ready to accept payment by whatever mode you are comfortable with whether it is Western union transfers, banking transactions or even prepaid gift cards.
There may times when you do not realize you are being scammed. If you are ever in doubt, do not take further action on the financial transaction such as a cheque. If you receive a phone call about such financial transactions that you think could be a scam, then Google the number to check if others have reported it. Do not call the number the scammer provides you but rather call the number of the company or bank after finding its genuine number from your banking statement, phone book or the internet.
Most of all – Stay vigilant. If something sounds too good to be true, It probably is.