Gift card internet scams have cost Edmontonians $683K so far in 2019

Edmonton police issued a public warning Tuesday after receiving 136 reports of gift card-related internet scams between Jan. 1 and July 15.

The scams have seen people lose more than $683,001, EPS said in a news release.

The scammer calls you, claiming to be a bank employee who says your online banking has been hacked. The person will also provide you with an employee number. The scammer will ask you to run a software program, which is a virus designed to give them access to your computer. Then, they’ll ask you to log into your online banking and have remote access to your computer.

Your bank account will show two fraudulent charges on your credit card. Usually, the first is for EBay and the second is for Google Play cards. The scammer pretends to call Google on your behalf and says you need to buy Google Play cards at a certain location to make up the difference.

The scammer asks you to scratch the codes on the cards and send them a photo.

“The scammer will then ask you to remain quiet about the situation, as they are currently doing a covert operation with the RCMP,” EPS said.

The scammer then deposits money into your account and then puts you on hold to “contact RCMP.”

You’ll later be asked to transfer money to “a designated RCMP officer via third-party banking account.”

This type of behaviour — the scammer transferring money to your account and asking you to buy gift cards and send photos of the codes — will continue until they can’t convince you to do it anymore, police said.

“Scammers do this for a living,” EPS Det. Linda Herczeg explained.

“This is their livelihood, so they spend all of their time building an elaborate and believable scheme. They use a real bank’s identity, including an employee number, to legitimize their story. Anyone can fall victim to these scams.”

Due to public access to information and images on the internet, scammers are easily impersonating businesses and/or their employees, police said.

If you have been a victim of fraud, please report to police at 780-423-4567 or come into a police station. To report a fraud, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

Watch below (Oct. 3, 2016): The latest CRA phone scam is costing Canadians millions of dollars, requesting payment through the purchase of iTunes gift cards. Consumer reporter Anne Drewa spoke with one B.C. woman who was recently duped.

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