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Police warn about fraudsters

New Westminster police are warning residents to be cautious and skeptical as online and telephone fraudsters are preying on citizens. Sgt.

New Westminster police are warning residents to be cautious and skeptical as online and telephone fraudsters are preying on citizens.

Sgt. Gary Weishaar issued a news release Friday stating one resident had been taken in a telephone scheme in which a fraudster pretended to work in tech support for Shaw Cable.

The caller told the victim that Shaw was able to detect viruses on his computer, which could be removed at a cost of $150.

The victim agreed and supplied his personal information and credit card number over the phone, but instructions on how to remove the virus never worked.

Police are still investigating the incident, but Weishaar said it highlights a need to review anti-fraud tips, including:

- Never invest or purchase a product or service without carefully checking the company and the product or service it is offering.

- Don't be afraid to request more information from call-ers who claim to be selling a product.

- Don't be baited by promises of prizes in exchange for personal or financial info or product purchases.

- Get-rich-quick promises via unsolicited phone calls or email never work out.

- Never give out personal or financial info to a stranger.

Previously, New Westminster police issued a release warning that seniors are particularly at risk for online and telephone fraud because they tend to be more trusting and willing to help others.

More sophisticated identity thieves are sending thousands of emails out at a time purporting to be from the victim's bank, warning that their banking information has been compromised, and the user must send their personal information to unfreeze their bank account. While the emails often look authentic, banks will never request the customers' private details by email, Weishaar said.

Another common scheme that targets the elderly involves a caller posing as a younger grandchild who needs money to be bailed out of trouble.

Often, the plea comes with a story about being stranded in another city or in a medical emergency. Sometimes, would-be thieves will even research family member names before attempting the fraud.

Weishaar said more websavvy residents should also talk openly with their older relatives to make sure they know how to spot a fraud when it comes along.

Those who suspect they have been targeted can contact the Canadian AntiFraud Centre at 18884958501.

New Westminster police can also offer help through the crime prevention unit at 604-525-5411.

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brichter@royalcityrecord.com