Vancouver Police are warning the public after local seniors were defrauded out of $3.1 million in five different cases. In two cases, VPD investigators were able to recover just over $2.5 million of the stolen money.
In each case, a fraudster called an elderly person on a landline and pretended to be either an employee of a jewelry store or a police officer. The elderly person was convinced that their credit card had been fraudulently used for a large purchase or that police required their help with a fraud investigation. They were then advised to hang up and call their bank or 9-1-1 immediately.
The victims hung-up the phone, picked it back up, heard a dial tone, and dialed either the bank or 9-1-1. However, the suspects never disconnected the line and it is believed they played a recording of a dial tone before answering and pretending to be either a police officer or a bank representative.
After a series of back and forth phone calls, the victims, still thinking the fraudster was either a police officer or a bank representative, were convinced to transfer large amounts of money to specific accounts overseas.
“Awareness is the key to preventing phone scams like this one. When you use a hardline phone, anytime you hang up there is an opportunity for someone to still be connected with you on the other line,” says Sergeant Jason Robillard, Vancouver Police Department. “Consider using a cell phone or make sure you are disconnected after you hang up.”
The investigation into these frauds is ongoing. Investigators believe there may be additional victims who have not reported the fraud and are asking them to call Vancouver Police investigators at 604-717-0503. Anyone outside of Vancouver is encouraged to call their local police.