An Alberta man warns others after losing $8,500 in an old scam with a new twist.
Edmontonian Robert Cronkite told Global News he got a call Wednesday from someone claiming to work with Service Canada. He said he hung up the phone twice, thinking it was a scam. But the third time he got the call, he said he was starting to believe it.
“They used good terminology. They are very convincing,” he said. “He told me Service Canada would help me and protect my money.”
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Cronkite said the caller told him that his Social Security number had been used in Montreal to create a bank account in his name and was being used to launder drug money.
He was told, “There’s $1.7 million in this account.”
While he was on his home phone with the supposed caller from Service Canada, Cronkite said he then got a call on his cell phone from a number very similar to the local RCMP detachment.
He said he spoke with an “officer” who provided a card number and warned that an arrest warrant would be issued against him, and if he did not want to be imprisoned for money laundering, he would have to withdraw all his money from his bank.
“I left in my accounts enough to cover the service fee and that kind of thing,” he said. “I haven’t closed my accounts, but they are empty.”
Cronkite was then given a QR code and instructed to deposit his money into a so-called “secure wallet” via a local bitcoin machine, which he did.
He has no hope of getting his $8,500 back.
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The Government of Canada has issued warnings about these types of scams, saying that many scammers are trying to imitate government services in order to gain access to personal and financial information.
The government said scammers often use emails, websites, text messages and phone calls purportedly from Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency to obtain this information.
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The Canadian Anti-fraud Center and the RCMP have also warned that these types of scams are on the rise and developing. While scammers used to ask for gift cards as a method of payment, cryptocurrency is now used more often.
Cryptocurrency scams are one of the biggest scams around right now, costing Canadian consumers more than $120 million in 2021 alone, according to the RCMP.
Canadians are reminded that no level of government or police force will use this type of tactic or payment method to get any money owed or make any arrests.
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Cronkite told Global News that the caller knew too much personal information about him and they did not ask for gift cards as payment. He said he really thought he was talking to a real RCMP officer.
That’s when he said he started to panic.
“I was told my phone was bugged, everything is bugged. They said I was following and then when you start seeing police cars behind you, you start to believe.”
Once his daughter alerted him to the fact that it was a scam, he called Edmonton Police and confirmed it was a scam.
Cronkhett said he knew he made a mistake — a very costly mistake. He just wants to warn others so they don’t fall victim.
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