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Text scams on the rise in the Kootenays

Local RCMP detachments in the Kootenays are warning community members of a rise in text, phone, and email scams after receiving multiple reports of residents being scammed out of significant amounts of money.

On Mar. 20, a Trail woman was scammed out of $1,900 by someone claiming to be her son who needed money.

The Trail RCMP detachment reported that the woman was contacted by text and transferred the funds via e-transfer.

When the individual asked her to transfer more funds after the first transaction, she became suspicious and contacted her son and realized she had been scammed.

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Unfortunately for the victim, e-transfers cannot be recovered, but the incident has prompted the detachment to warn residents of the scams and how to avoid them.

“Anyone can fall for a phone, text, and email scam as they are simple to execute yet often have sophisticated criminal networks running them. Please make sure you know the person you are communicating with, and double-check with the person you are sending money to if you are not sure about the legitimacy of the request,” said Sgt. Mike Wicentowich in a press release.

Trail isn’t the only community dealing with an influx of scammers. During Castlegar’s City Council Meeting, councillors brought attention to the issue, stating that many community members in Castlegar have also fallen victim to such scams.

Councillor Shirley Falstead said that a friend of hers was recently scammed out of nearly $10,000, adding that more awareness around the issue is needed.

Sergeant Monty Taylor with the Castlegar RCMP detachment agreed that awareness and communication are key in reducing the number of victims and urges anyone who thinks they may have fallen victim to a scam to talk about it and not feel embarrassed.

“When I started my career 20-some years ago, I thought these [scams] eventually would fall off the wayside, with people becoming more familiar with them. But they’re just evolving and becoming more elaborate and believable as technology and trends continue,” he said.

“We encourage families and friends to talk about the scams. Knowledge is power. It’s a difficult topic, talking about an individual’s financial situation and finances, but get that information out there.”

If you think you’ve been scammed or want information on how to protect yourself, you can visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and report it using their online reporting tool.

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