West Vancouver police are warning the public to hold onto their money after a couple stands to lose $500,000 to fraud artists posing as bank staff and police.
The scam began on October 6, when the victims received a call on their home phone from someone who claimed to be a police officer investigating fraudulent activity on their debit card.
The victim was asked to contact their bank using the number listed on the back of their card. They then spoke with someone who identified himself as a fraud investigator.
The victim was provided with a “reference number” and told not to share it with anyone, including family, friends, or even other bank staff because the fraud investigator was conducting an internal investigation and didn’t want it to be compromised.
The victim was then told to call 9-1-1 and to ask for “Inspector Mark Osbourne,” which they did.
More “calls” were made before the victim set up a wire transfer of $500,000 after being convinced that their money was not safe at their bank.
“This is not the first time we’ve seen this type of fraud in our community,” says Cst. Goodmurphy.
“Referred to as the hang-up delay fraud, callers are lead to believe that they are speaking with multiple people at multiple locations. In fact, the caller is simply staying on the other end of the line while the victim makes the calls, thus never actually disconnecting.”
In this case, the victim eventually grew suspicious and contacted police, who advised them to speak to their bank immediately.
It is yet to be confirmed if the funds were successfully transferred. The incident is still under investigation.
WVPD investigators are advising the public not to transfer money based on requests from unknown people who contact you through unsolicited phone calls, emails or text messages.
Police ask people to go to the bank in person if you have concerns and never give out personal information to people you don’t know.