Toronto Police are warning the public about a phone-based fraud scheme after five Torontonians lost over five million dollars.
At a press conference Friday, Toronto police said members of the public have been receiving calls to their home phone by individuals posing as retailers. These callers claim to be informing them about fraudulent offences involving their credit card accounts.
Police said the victim is then instructed to call 9-1-1 to alert police and their financial institution about the suspected fraud. However, the victim will actually be redirected to another person posing as a 9-1-1 dispatcher or bank teller.
The caller connects the victim to yet another imposter who would be posing as a police or bank investigator either by transferring the call directly or asking the victim to call the phone number on the back of their bank card.
All the while, police said the victim is unaware that the original caller has not disconnected and is actually still on the line. The victim will then be directed to visit their bank and immediately transfer a large sum of money to a specific account for safe keeping until the “investigation” is complete.
Financial crimes Detective Sergeant Ian Nickel, said the fraudsters must have been “pretty good pitchmen” because the victims are “all on the ball.”
To date there have only been five confirmed cases of this phone fraud in the city of Toronto. However, the victims’ losses total over a whopping five million dollars.
Nickel said he is unsure if these scammers have a specified target.
“It could be a lucky shot on their part, but the suggestion is out there that some of them at least had banking information associated to their victims,” he said.
In the wake of this fraud scheme Toronto Police want to remind the public that financial institutions will never advise you to transfer funds to external accounts for security purposes. The public should also not rely solely on caller ID as they may not always be accurate due to “call spoofing” technologies.
Anyone with information is urged to contact local police and crime stoppers anonymously at (416)-222-TIPS (8477).