Thornhill

Scammers target northwestern B.C. seniors

Mailed out cards state resident has a $100 credit for free gas

The creepiest thing was they knew where she lived, how old she was, and that they could have an illegal piece of mail delivered to her mailbox.

These were the disconcerting feelings Thornhill resident Rose McLeod had after twice receiving cards over the last week attempting to scam her – notes with bright message telling her she has a credit of $100 free gas at any number of gas stations, and all she had to do is phone a 1-800 number to collect it.

It didn’t take her long to realize someone was trying to pull the wool over her eyes.

“I don’t have any account anywhere, I mean I have a credit card which I pay off every month,” she said of the thought process upon receiving the first scam mail.

It was the first time she’d received a fake message like this, and whoever sent the postcard-like piece of mail hadn’t identified themselves, which was another thing that caused her to take warning.

“I just set it aside and said this can’t be right,” said McLeod.

A few days later on Feb. 2 she checked her mailbox again and found another telling her to call a number and claim her gas credit.

“Today in the mail I got another one exactly the same. I called the police and they said ‘yes this is a scam’.”

McLeod happens to have another friend who lives on Lazelle Ave. and who also received the scam message, and she and her friend decided it’s time to get the word out.

“I don’t know what they are after,” she said. “They want something from us.”

The funny thing is that others on the street didn’t receive the same scam notices. But her older friend on Lazelle did.

“She is a senior citizen too. So maybe they are targeting seniors.”

The messages have pre-paid postage on them and are designed with bright red, urgent writing.

A Canada Post official said the corporation doesn’t check for the legitimacy of mailed correspondence.

“Our delivery agent’s job is to deliver the mail as addressed. Any irregularities or suspicious mail should be highlighted with law enforcement,” said Eugene Knapik.

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, the federal agency devoted to documenting cases of public fraud and also teaching awareness, there are a number of key things to keep in mind to avoid getting bamboozled.

One thing to ask is, “Does it sound too good to be true?” If so, it probably is too good to be true. Time to recycle that postcard or hang up the phone and report to local RCMP.

Another risky situation is if whoever is calling or mailing tells you that you must give them financial information. Never do this, says the anti-fraud centre website.

Sometimes someone claiming to be a manager will call, and it will be a fraudulent telemarker selling something, and wanting cash for it because that form of payment is untraceable. Avoid following along, says the website.

Other times the caller might say that you have a limited time to cash in on some deal or other. But real businesses will allow you time to actually see or think about making a big purchase.

More advice and data on these sorts of scams can be found online at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/protectyourself-protegezvous/index-eng.htm