Phone scam targets people new to Canada by threatening deportation
New Canadians are being targeted by a scam demanding their money and threatening them with deportation.
Toronto-area resident Fariha Rashidi fell victim to one such scam earlier this month, losing nearly $5,000 to someone who was able to convince her that her husband had been arrested.
Rashidi received a call that appeared to be coming from her husband’s cellphone number. On the other end of the line was a man who identified himself as a police officer and said her husband had been arrested.
“He gave me his badge number, everything,” Rashidi told CTV Toronto.
Rashidi said she asked to speak to her husband and was told that was not allowed. The supposed police officer then said Rashidi needed to send him $11,000 to pay for her husband’s immigration documents, or else he would be sent back to Pakistan.
Rashidi was able to negotiate the price down to $4,700, which the caller demanded in the form of Bitcoin. She converted money from her student loans into Bitcoin and made the transfer.
It was only after the money was gone that Rashidi returned home and realized that her husband had been there the whole time, asleep.
The Rashidis then contacted the police – the real ones – and were told there was no way to know where the money went.
“I feel so bad,” Rashidi said.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre offers advice on how Canadians can protect themselves from various frequently reported scams, including those that target immigrants, involve extortion and make use of caller ID spoofing – all of which were elements of the call Rashidi received.
Some of the most common tips include not giving out sensitive personal information over the phone, being aware that scammers are able to disguise their phone numbers and remembering that calls demanding urgent payment and discouraging questions are likely not what they claim to be.
Additionally, no government groups require payment to be made via Bitcoin, gift cards or any other currency other than Canadian money.
If someone who calls claiming to represent a government or law enforcement agency seems suspicious, the agency recommends hanging up without giving out any personal information and calling the agency back at its regular number to verify the call.