Yet another telephone scam is attempting to defraud seniors in the Cowichan Valley. (File photo)

Yet another telephone scam is attempting to defraud seniors in the Cowichan Valley. (File photo)

Elderly Cowichan Valley woman scammed out of $5,000

Daughter sends warning to the community

An elderly widow in the Cowichan Valley lost $5,000 through a telephone and computer scam, and could have lost a lot more if her daughter hadn’t intervened.

The senior’s daughter Wendy said that at 8:30 a.m. on Dec. 7, the computer her mother, who we will call “Susan” to protect her identity, uses started making noise and a huge warning appeared on the screen stating that her security had been compromised.

The message instructed Susan to call Microsoft for help, and when she called the number that was given, a man informed her that her security had been breached and he could help.

He had her phone his supervisor, who he said was a level-three fraud investigator.

Susan was told the “fraud investigator” would help her through her predicament and had her log into her online banking.

Once logged in, Susan was told that her account showed large payments from her bank account and VISA about to be made to a porn hub site.

RELATED STORY: SENIOR ON MID ISLAND FOOLED BY ‘GRANDSON SCAM,’ EVEN AFTER WARNING FROM BANK TELLER

“I believe they gained access to her account after calling her through remote access and showed her fake copies of her account,” Wendy said.

“They then convinced her that she had to go out and buy gift cards with her VISA and debit card to take the money out of her account before the fraudster did. They convinced her that after she bought the gift cards and provided them with the card information off the gift cards, they would transfer the money from the gift cards back into her account.”

Wendy said the scammers had also convinced Susan that, to protect her security, she could not tell anyone what was happening until they had finished the transaction.

She said they had instructed Susan that when she purchased the gift cards, she had to tell the store that the cards are Christmas presents for family.

The scammers instructed her to buy gift cards for Google Play and for Best Buy in lots of $1,000 each.

“Even at this amount, they seemed to know that the stores would ask questions,” Wendy said.

“One of the stores required a manager override to purchase $1,000 in gift cards, but when asked, [Susan] said they were for family just as she had been told to. The manager even did the override two times in a row. I wish these stores would ask elderly distressed shoppers if they had been asked to do this by someone over the phone, or provided a warning for them to call RCMP or their bank. Even at Christmas, I think buying $2,000 worth of the same kind of gift card is a bit strange.”

RELATED STORY: CHEMAINUS WOMAN WARNS OF SCAMS ON DATING SITES FROM PERSONAL EXPERIENCE

Wendy said her mom’s financial transactions continued for much of the day.

She said Susan picked up her grandchildren after school and took them with her on one of her runs to buy gift cards.

“That was my first warning,” Wendy said.

“When I got home, my son told me how he had gone to the store with his grandmother to buy gift cards because her bank had been hacked. I tried calling her for an hour, but her line was busy because these people were still convincing her to spend more money. When I finally got hold of her, she was asking me for a ride to the store. Her saving grace was she does not like to drive in the dark.”

Wendy said her mother was adamant that she could not tell her, or anyone, about what was happening in order to protect her security until the scammers had dealt with the situation, but she finally got Susan to tell her what was happening.

“It took me until 7 p.m. for her to finally be willing to speak to me,” Wendy said.

“They had been bombarding her all day and she was exhausted. We then spent hours calling the bank, credit card companies and the RCMP. I am sharing this story because when we talked to the RCMP, they told us that this has happened repeatedly and recently within the Cowichan Valley. I want to help protect other vulnerable people.”

RELATED STORY: FRAUDSTERS PROJECTED TO USE PET SCAMS TO GOUGE OVER $3M FROM CUSTOMERS: BBB

Wendy said the RCMP advised them that, with this scam, her mother had likely lost all of the money she used to purchase the gift cards.

“By making you go out to actually buy the items means you have no way to get the money back,” she said.

“Most people are devastated and embarrassed when this happens, so they don’t tell people. By being silent, it only helps the scammers by hiding what is happening. I also want to ask people who work in retail to look out for your customers. If you see an elderly distressed person, and they are purchasing questionable stuff, please reach out and talk to them. Ask if someone on the phone told them to do this. Tell them if they have any questions to call their bank or RCMP. We must all help look out for the more vulnerable members of society.”



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Scams

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A Viking Air Twin Otter takes off on Runway 12 midway through a day of test flights on Jan. 13, 2021 at the Alberni Valley Regional Airport. Viking Air is located in Victoria. (SUSAN QUINN/ Alberni Valley News)
Viking Air tests Twin Otter at Port Alberni airport

Victoria-based company used rural airport for numerous flights

Island Health chief medical officer Dr. Richard Stanwick receives a first dose of Pfizer vaccine, Dec. 22, 2020. (B.C. government)
COVID-19: Vancouver Island in a January spike while B.C. cases decrease

Island’s top doc Dr. Stanwick breaks down the Island’s rising numbers

An enchanted forest photo booth has been set up outside the Alberni Valley public library as part of Family Literacy Week activities (FACEBOOK PHOTO)
Celebrate Family Literacy Week in Port Alberni

Alberni Valley Children & Youth Network has a week of activities planned

Christopher Anthony Craig Dick is wanted by the Port Alberni RCMP in connection to multiple investigations. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Vancouver Island RCMP seek man connected to assault investigations

Christopher Dick, 36, was recently in the North Cowichan and Duncan region

Inspector Eric Rochette is the new officer in charge of the Port Alberni RCMP. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni RCMP sees drop in property crime in late 2020

Clamp-down on prolific offenders seen as one reason

Dr. Penny Ballem, a former deputy health minister, discusses her role in leading B.C.’s COVID-19 vaccination program, at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
B.C. holds steady with 407 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday

14 deaths, no new outbreaks in the health care system

Shown is Quality Foods at 319 Island Highway in Parksville. The Island-based grocery chain announced on Jan. 25 it made a $2-per-hour pay premium, implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic, permanent. (Mandy Moraes photo)
COVID-19: Quality Foods makes $2-per-hour employee pay premium permanent

Island-based grocery chain had extended increase twice in 2020

A Cessna 170 airplane similar to the one pictured above is reported to be missing off the waters between Victoria and Washington State. Twitter photo/USCG
Canadian, American rescue crews searching for missing aircraft in waters near Victoria

The search is centered around the waters northeast of Port Angeles

The North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP have arrested a prolific offender who is now facing more than 40 charges. (Black Press file photo)
‘Priority offender’ arrested in Cowichan Valley faces more than 40 charges

Tyler Elrix, 37, had a history of evading police; was ordered not to be in Vancouver Island

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Jonathon Muzychka and Dean Reber are wanted on Canada-wide warrants. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Convicted killer, robber at large after failing to return to facility: Victoria police

Dean Reber, 60, and Jonathon Muzychka, 43, may be together

B.C. Premier John Horgan listens during a postelection news conference in Vancouver on Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
30% of B.C. recovery benefit applications held up in manual review

The province says 150 staff have been reassigned to help with manually reviewing applications

Adam Dergazarian, bottom center, pays his respect for Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna, in front of a mural painted by artist Louie Sloe Palsino, Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
Kobe Bryant’s presence remains strong a year after his death

Tuesday marks the grim anniversary of the crash that took their lives

Surrey RCMP are investigating after a pedestrian was struck and killed at 183 Street and Highway 10 Friday night. (File photo)

Most Read