North Saanich couple lose thousands to email “Phishing” Scam


2017-02-24 13:35 PST

File # 2017-764

A North Saanich couple recently contacted Sidney North Saanich RCMP to report that they were out a significant amount of money as a result of an email Phishing scam.
The victims of this scam reported that back in January of 2017, they had received what appeared to be a legitimate email from a major Canadian bank, advising them that their account had been compromised. The email directed them to provide their banking and personal information in order to resolve the issue. The couple followed the instructions included in the email and a short time later, discovered that over $20,000 dollars had been fraudulently withdrawn from their account. Sidney North Saanich RCMP are continuing to investigate this matter but wish to remind the public to be wary if they receive these types of messages because Phishing scams are becoming more prevalent of late.
Phishing by definition, is the attempt by fraudsters to obtain your sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, bank account and personal information, or credit card details by making it appear that the message is from a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication. The word Phishing is similar to the word Fishing due to the similarity of using a bait in an attempt to catch a victim. According to the 3rd Microsoft Computing Safer Index Report released in February 2014, the annual worldwide impact of Phishing scams could be as high as $5 billion.
Phishing is typically carried out by email spoofing or instant messaging, and it often directs users to enter personal information at a fake website, the look and feel of which are almost identical to the legitimate one. Communications purporting to be from banks, credit card companies, online payment processors or IT administrators are often used to lure victims. Phishing emails may also contain links to websites that are infected with malware.
Of late, there are multiple Phishing messages being sent out to a wide net of seemingly random groups of people by way of computer generated email and text message. All of these Phishing attempts are similar in that they purport to be from a major Canadian Bank or other legitimate financial institution, and they typically advise you that your account has been suspended due to fraudulent or suspicious activity. The message will then direct you to log into a specific web site or address, which will look very official, and further prompt you to provide your personal and bank account information. Of course once the fraudsters have this information, they will very quickly use it to empty your bank accounts or rack up huge bills with credit card companies, using your name and personal financial information.
One of the surest signs that you are looking at an attempted Phishing scam is when the email or text message asks for your personal information. Your bank does not need you to provide your account number or other financial information. They already have it. Similarly, a reputable bank or company would never send an email asking for your password, credit card number, or the answer to a security question. Another very common scam of late is a Phishing email purporting to be from Canada Revenue Agency advising people to pay a fine for owed taxes or some other ruse.
If you receive one of these Phishing type messages that appears to have been sent to you from your Banking, or Financial Institution, do not respond, and do not click on any links provided within the message. The best course of action is to contact your Bank or Financial Institution directly and enquire about the legitimacy of the message. To learn more about Phishing scams and how to protect yourself from these and other similar frauds, visit the website of any major Bank. There will be an entire section devoted to Privacy and Security where you can learn more about the more common scams out there and steps you can take to protect yourself.
Sidney North Saanich RCMP hope that by making the public more aware, we can reduce the number of people that fall victim to these scams. In many cases, once the money is gone, the chances of recovering it are slim. The best way for people to protect themselves is through education so they don’t fall victim to these scams in the first place.


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