Over the past few weeks, Niagara Regional Police have seen a rise in online fraud taking place, partly due to the fact more people have additional time to access the internet due to COVID-19.
As more people move toward e-commerce there is a greater chance of being a victim of fraud. As part of Police Week 2020, here are a few common scams we have witnessed and tips on how you can protect yourself.
Sextortion Scam – The victim receives an email stating that there computer was hacked and they provide an old password of the user that they found in a previous data breach. The suspects ask for bitcoin or they will release compromising photos of the user to their friends and family. Chances are the victims computer has not been compromised and the scammers are just hoping the user will send them bitcoin. You can report these emails to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center.
Puppy Scam – With so many people isolating and experiencing loneliness they are seeking companionship. One of the scams on the rise is web sites and online listings have popped up selling puppies. Many scammers are asking for money up front to “Hold” a puppy which is usually sent out of the Province by Wire transfer or Bitcoin. Before sending any money do your homework and make sure you’re dealing with a reputable breeder. Search the email address, telephone number or any other information to see if there are fraud complaints or positive review for the seller.
Online Buyers – The use of online e-commerce sites has skyrocketed to make durable good purchases. If you’re dealing with an unknown person or web site to make an online sale be cautions if the seller request money be sent via bitcoin, wire transfer or electronic fund transfer (EFT). Most reputable sellers will use an online payment processor to conduct their transactions. Consider using a third party payment providers who protect your purchase. If it seems too good to be true it probably is.
Online Sellers – People selling items are at risk too. Sometime a buyer of an item will over pay by a fraudulent cheque or transfer and request funds be sent back to them or have them forward the over-payment to a fraudulent shipping company. By the time the fraudulent payment is discovered the funds are already collected. If you have any doubts about a payment attempt to confirm the payments with the bank and wait for the payment to clear.
If you believe you have received a fraudulent email text message or scam and sustained no loss you can report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center.