“Congratulations! You’ve won the $100,000 cash prize. Please wire $500 advance payment to the account below to claim your prize…” Have you ever received brief messages or emails similar to this? According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), fraudsters usually target seniors who never use online banking services. They aim to extort victims’ banking information in order to manipulate victims’ bank accounts, launder money, and ultimately benefit from other massive marketing scams. In fact, Better Business Bureau (BBB) had listed fake lottery winnings as one of the top 10 scams of 2016.
Fake Lottery or Gifts Winnings are oftentimes done through short messages and social media. For instance, you will receive a short message informing that you have won gift cards from a major retailor, but the fraudsters will ask you to enter a specific password on their website first for you to receive the gift. You will then be asked to fill in a form with your personal information and general lifestyle type questions, such as ‘will you return to school to study’ or ‘do you have diabetes.’ Finally, when you have completed the form, you will be redirected to another website to apply for credit card. In the end, you will not receive any gift card and yet, your personal information is compromised.
Another common scenario is fraudsters posting promotional pictures of various retailors on social media such as Instagram. When you ‘like’ the picture, you will be directed to another website that asks you to answer questions which is aimed at extracting your personal information. This type of scam tends to target young adults and youth as they are more likely to use social media on a regular basis.
To avoid becoming the next victim, individuals need to be more cautious because fraudsters have various tricks that can make the individuals fall into their traps. Remember, never prepay or buy any product to receive the lucrative prize; individuals do not have to pay to receive lottery winnings. More importantly, individuals should be cautious of suspicious phone calls and/or e-mails. If you did not buy any lottery, you did not win any prize. In any case, whenever you release your own personal information to anyone, especially bank account information, consider the circumstances and the person requesting the information.
If you unfortunately became a victim and/or your identity is stolen and in need of replacement, please contact the police at http://vancouver.ca/police/online-crime-reporting/fraud.html