Auto Insurance System Reform Being Pushed by Ontario to Slash Rates and Fight Fraud

Ontario has the highest auto insurance premiums in Canada despite the province having low rates of collisions and deaths – a big factor to that is the prevalence of auto insurance fraud.

Changes Ahead

Ontario is looking into ways to push for changes in the auto insurance industry to help try to combat fraud and eventually reduce premiums. This is in view of the reported cost of auto insurance fraud totaling to an estimated $1.6 billion a year as shared by Finance Minister Charles Sousa. He said it is now time to put a stop to the fraud, a move that may create new challenges for real crash victims.

Sousa shared that there are plans for the government to develop standard treatment plans for commonplace collision injuries such as whiplash and sprains. They will also create neutral and independent examination centres for the medical assessment of more serious cases and tackle fraud in the system by establishing a Serious Fraud Office. He hopes that getting rid of fraud will significantly reduce costs and subsequently lower premiums.

The Numbers

Ontario found out earlier this year via a government-commissioned report that the province pays Canada’s most expensive auto insurance premiums despite having the lowest numbers of fatalities and accidents. The higher cost is for covering loses due to auto insurance fraud.

All of the above comes at a time when the Liberal government is still working on their promise of a reduced rate. Although they are about halfway of their goal right now, they missed their self imposed deadline in August 2015.

Lawyers Say New Plan Will Unfairly Target Victims

Personal injury lawyers are not fans of the proposal, pointing out that the new process will work unfairly against real victims.

Michael Smitiuch of Smitiuch Injury Law based in Toronto stated that it seems the current government has a talent for punishing people who truly needed help the most as it will create unnecessary  roadblocks for victims. The lawyer also said that a cookie cutter approach like what the province is proposing will not be enough to adequately meet the needs of injured victims. He further voiced out that he sees more problems in the future regarding claiming of benefits and making sure that they are paid out.

Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ consultant Sebastian Gallagher said the proposed system will do the opposite of providing clarity and lessening confusion.

A Different Time for The Same Mistakes?

Critics expressed that the new plan have concerning similarities with the failed Designated Assessment Centres introduced in 1994 and shut down in 2006. The DAC failed because the process was usually long, drawn out, and a sinkhole of resources.

Should the new proposal be implemented, proving fraud or the absence thereof might become even more difficult. Some people will do anything for fraud. Luckily for you, we specialize in uncovering cases of it through the use of our legitimate private investigation services and techniques. Contact us should you wish to get data on someone or place them under personal surveillance the right way.

 

Mandarin speakers in the GTA Targeted for New Fraud Scam Warns Police

Investigators are warning Mandarin speakers in the GTA that they’re being targeted for a scam by fraudsters pretending to be Chinese authorities. The scammers typically accuse their victims of money laundering, as shared by the police.

Extortion Scam Targeting GTA Mandarin speakers

Toronto’s Mandarin speakers are the newest victims of a new fraud and extortion scam. The victims (who are from the GTA) are contacted by the suspects via instant messaging or via phone and made to believe that they are talking to Chinese law enforcement officials and authorities, as shared in a recent Toronto Police Service news release.

The Toronto Police is working with a multi-agency group of law enforcers that partnered together to fight cross-border fraud schemes – called the Toronto Strategic Partnership. They stated that the suspects accuse their victims of money laundering and then threaten them about arresting them or seizing their assets.

How The Scam Works

The suspects ask the victims to prove their innocence by sending money wire transfers or cash so that they can investigate and examine the funds for fraud. The scammers never return the money.

Police are making it clear that they won’t ever ask suspects or witnesses to send money transfers to investigate or examine a possible fraud.

How To Spot a Money Laundering Scam

Real money laundering scams exists, but they are not the same as above. Money launderers typically get someone out of their organization to ‘launder’ funds for them by having the victim use his/her own account to accept ‘dirty’ money and then send it to the money launderer as ‘clean’ money.

The scammer would often claim that they have a currency conversion or a bank incompatibility issue to lure a victim into laundering money for them by making ‘dirty’ money go through ‘clean’ channels. Sometimes they claim that they need an overseas agent to facilitate transfer of funds by accepting funds into their account and withdrawing a sum to be sent as a wire transfer. The goal is to ‘clean’ stolen or ‘dirty’ funds so that law enforcement will have a difficult time following the money trail.

Prevent Being a Victim of Money Laundering

The money that is typically laundered are the proceeds from online fraud, funds from stolen bank accounts, and payments for nonexistent eBay items. Sadly, the agents or people used by the scammers for money laundering are usually the ones who get arrested even when all they did is to help someone transfer funds, not knowing that the person they are helping is part of a criminal network involved in money laundering. The hapless agents are the ones who often get arrested and left to answer for crimes they did not commit.

Plenty of naïve or nice helpful people are victimized by money laundering networks each year, with some thinking that they were simply hired for an easy job of handling legitimate money transfers for a company that doesn’t really exist. The best way to avoid being a part of any money laundering scheme is to educate yourself scams like the ones mentioned in this article and to stay away from easy job offers where the main job is transferring money or buying equipment using your own account. Remember that legitimate companies would have no issues having their own account.

Do you think that someone might be trying to scam you? Contact Haywood Hunt and avail of our private investigation services. Contact us to help prevent fraud!

Fraudulent CRA Phishing Scams Now Used for Identity Theft

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Thousands of Canadians have fallen victim to scammers who pretend that they are from the CRA. Unsuspecting victims are usually contacted with threatening texts, emails, or calls telling them that a recent audit has uncovered that they owe a substantial amount to the Canada Revenue Agency. The CRA has been used as a front by fraudsters in the past as well.

Worrying Calls

One victim recalled that a fraudster identified himself as officer Craig Williams from the CRA and called her about discrepancies with her maternity leave and employment insurance. This left the victim confused because she knew her paperwork have been filed months prior and that the caller’s phone number showed that it was a toll-free number from Vietnam. Luckily, she googled the number and knew it was not from the CRA so she called the number and asked for which CRA department the caller is from. The fraudster cut the call.

The incident above could easily be dismissed as just another attempt to scam but one disturbing fact was that the caller knew that the victim is a new mom who’s receiving employment insurance. That is something that is rather specific.

The victim then proceeded to check her social media settings and double checked possible leaks of her financial details but found none.

Similar Scams

Barring details of the story above, many of which are a red flag about the authenticity of the caller, it should be noted that the CRA has been used in many similar scams in the past (and even now).

Extortion schemes are the most common ones, making targeted victims pay for supposed mistakes in their returns. The victims are threatened via email, text, and/or calls and informed that they will be arrested and/or reported if they do not pay via prepaid credit card, iTunes cards, e-transfer, or Bitcoin ATMs. Some victims have been targeted twice by the same scammers.

Alarming Criminal Activity

Identity theft and identity fraud have been identified by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre located in North Bay, Ontario. Their office tracks identity theft, mass-marketing fraud, and identity fraud. They recorded a loss of about $100 million from 30,000 victims of mass marketing scams last year and logged 26,500 individual cases of identity fraud where criminals used another person’s identity to scam service providers, stores, and banks out of $14 million. As for identity theft, they’ve received more than 10,000 complaints last year.

Identity Theft On The Rise

One targeted victim for identity theft remembered a call from someone claiming to be from Visa verifying recent transactions made with his car. He discovered that a deposit of $4,000 has been made in his account. Because he works in finance and knew how bad people may use his details, he changed his social security number and thought that was it. A few months down the road, he received a call from a detective following the arrest of a man who’ve been using his identity.

We’ve shared with you some alarming cases of identity fraud and identity theft. Luckily for the people involved above, their quick thinking helped minimize the harm done to them by fraudsters.

Want us to help you with a possible case of identity theft or identity fraud? Contact us today at  Haywood Hunt and we’ll assist you with the private investigation services we offer.

Increase of Bitcoin Scam Victims in York Region Reported

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Police are sounding the alarm due to the increase of cases of Bitcoin fraud lately, more so that recovering any money or tracking it down is nearly impossible because cash becomes untraceable when it is converted into the cryptocurrency.

A Huge Scam

Police shared that dozens of individuals have fallen victim to a Bitcoin scam that is currently rampaging in the York Region. About $340,000 have been scammed from victims according to estimates.

Bitcoin ATMs are used for the scam. The machines are being used in a new CRA scam which instructs victims to convert their cash to Bitcoins.

How it Happens

The CRA-Bitcoin scam is done by perpetrators posing as police officers or tax collectors who contact a targeted victim over tax issues. The victims are threatened with a possible arrest if they do not cooperate. They are then told to use ATMs to convert their cash to Bitcoins, a decentralized digital cryptocurrency which is used for trading.

Police shared that about 45 victims in the York Region have been identified since April 2017. One victim, who goes by the name Linda, said in a recent press conference that the fraudsters are very convincing.

Linda stated that the scammers called her cellphone to inform her that she is under investigation for tax fraud and that she will be arrested if she did not address the matter immediately. She further shared that the scammers told her that there is a warrant for her arrest and that she’ll get a call from the York Regional Police.

Linda also said that although she initially thought that the call was fraudulent, she eventually believed them because the fraudsters knew some of her personal information plus she got a call from a number that registered as ‘York Regional Police’ on her phone.

Due to the above, Linda was persuaded to withdraw $12,000 from her bank account and deposited the amount to a Bitcoin ATM in Richmond Hill. The machine took her money, converted it to Bitcoin, and sent the currency to the fraudster.

Linda knew nothing of Bitcoin before the fraud and thought the machine was just something the Revenue Canada used to transfer money quickly. She realized right after that falling for the scam was an expensive mistake.

Impossible to Track

It should be noted that although Bitcoin ATMs are legitimate, the very nature of the cryptocurrency means that tracking money converted into it is practically impossible.

Police said that there is really nothing they can do to trace the money and that the only way to get it back is for the person who received it to send it back. They further shared that the scam is likely pulled off by an overseas organized crime group.

Prevention of Future Bitcoin Scams

Public awareness is hailed by the police to be the only proven way so far to prevent people from falling victim to a Bitcoin scam. They’ve since placed flyers near ATMs informing the public that government agencies do not accept Bitcoins as payment.

Do you think that you are being targeted for a scam and would like to avail of our Private investigation services at Haywood Hunt? We’re here to help! Contact us  today!

Email Phishing Scam Takes $11.8M from MacEwan University in Alberta

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Fake emails caused the MacEwan University in Alberta to lose nearly $12M. The fake emails were disguised as a legitimate email and asked the university workers to change the electronic banking information details for one of the school’s major vendors.

A Series of Fake Emails

A phishing attack defrauded an Alberta university of $11.8 million when the university staff unknowingly paid millions of dollars online to a company they thought was one of their vendors.

MacEwan University spokesperson David Beharry said that what happened was an administrative error and that they didn’t have safeguards in place that could have prevented it from happening. As a result, Beharry shares that the university will now be implementing a secondary and tertiary level of approval.

Lack of Certain Precautions Led to Fraud

When asked why certain safeguards were not part of their protocol before the fraud took place, the spokesperson said that they are seriously looking into the matter now.

The scam was pulled off successfully when perpetrators made a website that looked closely like the domain site of one of the vendors used by the university. The fraudsters used the fake website to impersonate the vendors and to ask the university to pay their accounts payable to a new bank account which is under the control of the fraudsters. Over a period of 9 days, 3 MacEwan University staffers made 3 separate payments totaling $11.8 million. The 3 payments were $1.9 million, followed by $22,000, and lastly, $9.9 million. No one realized the university was making payments to a fake account until the real vendor called days later asking to be paid.

Investigations Point to the Truth

The 3 university employees who made the payments were not high-level staffers, shared Beharry. He did not disclose if the staff members were reprimanded or suspended but said that police investigations and internal investigations are on-going. He did add that the university does not think that there was some collusion and said that they believe what happened was a case of human error.

Beharry declined to identify the vendor faked by the fraudsters. He instead shared that some construction firms were also impersonated in similar attacks online.

Most of the money was traced to a Montreal bank account and 2 other accounts based in Hong Kong. Actions are currently being taken to freeze the Hong Kong bank accounts while $6.3 million was seized from the account based in Montreal. Beharry adds that they are confident that the money will be recovered although it would take some time.

Major Security Review

The university reviewed their financial and IT systems and found that both were secure. They also shared that they would be able to meet their financial commitments to the vendor involved and others.

Advanced Education Minister Marlin Schmidt said that he is very disappointed that a university was victimized by a phishing scam. He further said that he expects all university board chairs to conduct a review of their financial controls. He issued a statement that he asked the university board chair to report the details as to how the fraud occurred.

Do you suspect that you are being targeted for a similar scam? Or do you need help setting precautions against similar fraud? Our private investigation services will give you the answers and the help you need. Contact us immediately for an obligation-free initial consultation.

Trending Grandparent Scam, Targeting Mississauga Residents Anew

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It is easy to lose one’s common sense when a loved one is in trouble, and that is what fraudsters are banking on as the notorious grandparent scam hits Mississauga once again.

A New Type of Grandparent Scam

Peel police are warning residents in Brampton and Mississauga about a new type of grandparent scam that’s been recently discovered by the force’s fraud bureau. The term ‘grandparent scam’ is used because the fraud is specifically targeting seniors.

The police shared that the scam starts with a phone call to the victim. The scammer pretends to be a family member (usually a grandson) and asks the targeted victim to purchase an expensive watch (usually a Rolex). The fraudster claims that the purchase is for paying a debt. Another version is that the purchase is for a gift. Once the purchase has been made, the victim is directed to send the watch to a Quebec address using a courier service.

The scam is so successful because targeted victims are told by the fake family member that this is a matter that must be kept a secret from other family members.

Clear Warnings Given

Residents are being asked by the police to verify details of requests like the one described above with other family members before sending any form of material thing. Residents are warned that phone calls asking for money and/or gifts must be treated suspiciously.

In some instances, the scammer would ask for a gift card instead of money or an expensive item. To save on shipping fee, the scammer would then ask for the code or serial number over the phone.

Police shared that the common targets are elderly or retirement age individuals who live alone and have a publicly published phone number. If you or someone you know is a possible target, be sure to read the next section.

Tips to Avoid the Scam

Avoiding any sort of grandparent scam is quite easy if you heed the following tips:

  • Lawyers and law enforcement will not ask for your jewellery or other valuables over the phone.
  • Any request for money should be treated with caution unless the person is exactly who she is or he is and the request was made in person.
  • Before filling up forms in websites, make sure that you are at the right site.
  • Do not send money to a stranger.
  • Note that games and lotteries do not ask winners for fees.
  • Protect your banking and mailing details. Do not share over the phone.
  • Do not share private information such as your name or bank details online such as in Facebook.
  • Read up on the latest scams and fraud targeting Canadians at www.antifraudcentre.ca
  • If you suspect that someone may be running a scam or trying to defraud you, contact the Fraud Bureau at (905) 453-2121, ext. 3335

If you suspect that you or someone is being targeted for a scam, the first thing to do is to calm down so that you can gather information that you can report to the proper authorities. Note what the suspected fraudsters are telling you to do for reporting later. You can also ask for our private investigation services. Contact us soonest so we can discuss how we can help you more.

Could a New Phone Scam Trick You?

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The communities of Greater Toronto Area has fallen victim to some scams lately as recently reported by Insauga, with the neighbourhoods of Brampton and Mississauga getting much of the scam attacks. The thing with this scam attacks is that they can target even the most unsuspecting of victims, and can happen digitally because of advancements in technology.

Scam and Technology

Not long ago, contracts and purchases had to be made in person for a transaction to push through. Things are very different now as technology had made it possible to sign a contract or authorize a purchase just by voice recognition. ‘Yes!’ is not something you simply say over the phone any more as scammers have found a way to use voice recordings to authorize financial transactions and confirm a purchase in your name.

This is because the act of saying “yes” can be construed to mean the same as “I Agree” or “I Accept” by some websites or when completing certain online transactions. Banks and insurance companies sometimes use the same confirmation when authorizing money transfers and account changes via mobile device or phone call.

This is certainly alarming and it goes without saying that you won’t want to fall victim to this. To help you avoid being a victim of this new phone scam, we’ve compiled a list of safety measures in the next section.

Avoid Falling Victim to a New Phone Scam

While it is best to do financial transactions and account changes in person, it is still possible to be targeted for a phone scam. Minimize your risk by observing the following precautions.

Avoid picking up calls from unknown numbers

Do you know that by just picking up the call, you are signaling to criminals that they can use your details for scams? Scammers may call you telling you that you won a trip, or that a loved one is in the hospital and they need your details. It is easy to be emotional and throw common sense out the window when you are excited or worried so to avoid being victimized by this ploy, simply do not answer calls from unknown locations.

Think about it, if something is really important, the caller will contact you via other means or perhaps leave a voicemail…or even call again. Scammers don’t usually call the same number again and again because they want to move on as fast as possible to their next possible victim.

Exercise caution and skepticism when taking calls from unknown sources

Be extra careful when the caller asks you questions that require a Yes or No answer (such as “is this ___?” or “are you home?”). When you picked up a call that asked something like that and you don’t know who is calling, it is better to reply with another question such as “who is calling, please? or “may I know why you are asking that?”. This usually throws off the scammer and shows that you’re not someone easily manipulated.

Don’t give personal information to strangers

Whether they ask for your personal information or someone you know, just refuse to give personal information. No matter if they claim to be legitimate companies such as your bank or insurance, give an excuse and hang-up. You can always call the company (do not use the call back feature, dial from scratch) to verify.

Not sure if you’ve already been targeted for a phone scam? Our private investigation services may help. Contact us at Haywood Hunt at your earliest convenience to inquire for your free initial consultation.

U.S. Health Fraud Schemes Worth $1.3 billion Sees 412 Individuals Charged

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It seems that fraud is simply everywhere no matter where you are and the worst thing is, perpetrators of fraud can find ways to exploit even the most basic of human needs. This is what came to light when Attorney general Jeff Sessions announced that more than 400 individuals were found to be involved in health care fraud and opioid scams that cost about $1.3 billion. The frauds were pulled off by false billing.

The Takedown Operation of the Largest Health Care Fraud in American History

Attorney General Jeff Sessions dubbed the collective action as the largest takedown operation concerning health care fraud in American history. He says that the fraud included some pharmacists, doctors, and nurses who all chose to violate their oaths to their patients and their profession and succumbed to the call of greed.

6 doctors from Michigan were accused in the scheme because they were prescribing unnecessary opioids. A rehab facility in Florida also allegedly recruited addicts with visits to strip clubs and gift cards. They are involved in $58 million worth of false tests and treatments.

Officials who are in charge of this case shared that out of everyone charged in the schemes, there are more than 120 individuals involved in the illegal prescription and distribution of narcotic painkillers. This is worse than it seems because prescription opioids such as those used in the scheme are behind the epidemic of the deadliest drug overdose in US history. Just in 2015, more than 52,000 Americans died from opioid overdose – a number that will continue to rise according to experts.

More Disastrous Than Initially Thought

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe shared that they know of cases where addicts were packed into waiting rooms with no room to sit on (because they were so packed) just to wait for the prescriptions. He shared that situations like this are nothing but a death sentence.

Sessions shared that as a result of the investigations; about 300 health care providers in the U.S. are either suspended or banned from taking part in federal health care programs. He also shared that he observed that there seems to be a general feeling of disregard or simply not caring on the part of the health care workers regarding the disastrous consequences of their greed. He added that by their actions, the greedy health care practitioners did not only enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers who shell out the money but also endangered people by starting and feeding addictions.

Not Just in the US

Health care fraud like in today’s post happens everywhere, even here in Canada. Law officials everywhere are still grappling with the best way problems like this can be discovered and addressed.

Health insurance and Medicare (and their equivalents) in various nations are being charged falsely, resulting in fraud amounting to millions of dollars. Remember that it is taxpayers like you who pay for the money misused in fraud like this resulting in help not reaching those who really need it.

What Can You Do?

Be vigilant and proactive. If you notice something is off and suspect that fraud might be at play, report to the proper authorities. If you need help gathering evidence so you won’t end up filing a false scam report, we offer our private investigation services for that. Contact us to know more.

Chinese Community in GTA Targeted by an Immigration Scam Says Peel Police

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Police are warning the Chinese community in GTA that a scam is targeting members of their community. The scam, which the police say is too good to be true, promises Chinese people via an ad in local Chinese newspapers that their company can help secure travel documents going to Canada from China. The fraudulent company is called Gao Sheng Investment Corporation.

Fictitious Company and Fictitious Names

Peel Region Police are getting alarmed over reports from people that nearly became victims of an immigration scam perpetuated by a fictitious company. The company in question uses ads on a local Chinese newspaper to lure victims with promises of travel documents from China to Canada.

Gao Sheng Investment Corporation is a fictitious company that promises unsuspecting Chinese people that they can provide work permits, travel visas, visitor visas and immigration documents. The scam is targeting people who would want to secure travel documents for relatives so they can travel from China to Canada.

The police are warning anyone who might fall victim to the scam that deals that sound too good to be true are probably bogus.

The fake ads were published in several daily Chine-language newspapers that distribute throughout the GTA, shared Const. Mark Fischer to CBC Toronto. The police are declining to name the publications since they have no responsibility over the alleged scams by the questionable company.

History of Fraud

Investigators say that the company Gao Sheng Investment Corporation does not exist and that the same name has been used by culprits in the past. Const. Mark Fischer shared that the same company name has been involved in a fraudulent incident in 2015.

The police shared that the scammers usually ask victims to make a deposit to their accounts in exchange for plane tickets and visas, adding that the company won’t accept any other payment except upfront payment in cash.

The police added that the perpetrators will never meet with victims in business areas during the entire process, preferring to just meet at home or public spaces like restaurants and coffee shops. The police also said that the scammers would often provide fake identification to make victims think they are legitimate.

Just to be clear, no travel documents nor plain tickets were provided by the company after payment has been made. Victims were defrauded of sums between $1,000 to $10,000, according to Const. Fischer.

Current Updates

As of today, no charges have been filed against the scammers yet. The police have issued warnings to potential victims not to believe such companies and to fact check company names and contact details before handing over any amount of money.

It is to be noted that Peel isn’t the only region the scam is operating in as similar scams were also reported in Toronto in April of this year. Investigations for that are also currently ongoing.

Suspecting that you’re being targeted by a scam? Get the answers you need by availing the services of a private investigator today. Contact us for a quote and other details.

Immigration Phone Call Scam and CRA Scam on the Rise

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It seems that despite operations to aggressively address the immigration scam and CRA scam that are victimizing Canadians, prevalence continues to rise up in numbers.

Warnings Are Being Sent Out

As of today, police are still getting reports from affected residents stating that they have received phone calls from fraudulent individuals posing as legitimate government officials from various federal agencies. The usual agencies that scammers claim they are from are CIC or Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Service Canada, and CRA.

The Fraud Bureau of Peel Regional Police’s investigators urge residents to be extra vigilant and be suspicious of phone calls that claim to be from the said agencies.

How the Scams Work

For fraudulent callers that claim they are from CRA, they usually call and say that the call’s receiver has outstanding taxes owed to the government that were uncovered after a recent tax audit. If the caller claims to be from immigration, the usual lie they present is that the call’s receiver have outstanding fees that need to be collected due to incorrect or incomplete information provided on their application.

Victims report feeling rattled after phone calls because the fraudulent individuals often make threats that non-compliance through non immediate will result to an arrest.

The caller typically provides very specific payment instructions to the victims. The usual modes of payment are Money Gram transfers, Western Union, bank transfers, iTunes, use of STEAM cards, or buying prepaid credit cards.

One worrying detail is that in some cases, the victim is picked up from his or her residence by a taxi sent by the fraudsters to ensure fast payments via financial institutions or Western Union. In some instances, victims were herded to directly transfer funds overseas.

How to Avoid These Types of Fraud

The police advise that anyone who has been defrauded should report to the police as soon as what happened was realized by the victim. The police also wish the public to take note of the following anti-fraud information:

  • Real Canadian Government Officials will not contact you directly and make you pay them money to secure your Canadian Status.
  • The Canadian Government will not make you wire payments to another country and do not accept the following modes of payment: Prepaid Credit Cards, Money Gram or Western Union, STEAM cards, or iTunes.
  • It is best to verify the truth through the concerned agency when you receive a call and note that call displays can be manipulated through Caller ID spoofing (making you think that the call is coming from the agency).
  • To verify information, do not use the number provided by the suspected fraudster to call back. Call the official numbers listed on the Government of Canada’s official website.
  • Educate yourself against scams like these by visiting antifraudcentre.ca, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.

If you wish to have someone who claims to be working for the Canadian Government investigated, contact us to employ the help of professional private investigators or contact your local authorities.