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Police impersonator steals thousands from North Okanagan residents

RCMP are warning residents of a scam in which fraudsters claim to be police officers over the phone
The Vernon North Okanagan RCMP are warning of a scam involving a police impersonator Friday, Dec. 3, 2021. (File photo)

RCMP are alerting the public of a police impersonation scam that led to two North Okanagan residents losing thousands of dollars.

Police recently received two separate reports of fraudsters claiming to be police officers and convincing victims into purchasing and handing over thousands of dollars worth of gift cards.

One victim lost $3,500 while another lost $2,000. In both cases, the phone number was altered to display a trusted phone number: the Enderby and Armstrong RCMP offices’ non-emergency lines.

The fraudster went as far as providing a fake name, rank and even badge number, according to Const. Chris Terleski, media relations officer with the Vernon North Okanagan RCMP.

“Police officers will never request monetary payments, ask for gift cards, or attempt to solicit any financial information over the telephone, or email,” Terleski said. “If someone contacts you, identifies as a police officer, and asks for any of these things or threatens you in any way, end the call immediately. If the person keeps pressuring you or threatens you, it’s not legitimate and you are doing the right thing by hanging up.”

RCMP offer the following tips for how to recognize, reject and report a case of fraud:

• Never assume the caller is who they say they are simply because they have some basic info such as your address or your birthdate

• If you didn’t initiate the call, you don’t know who you are talking to

• Never give out any personal information over the phone to unsolicited callers

• Never pay a debt by crypto-currencies such as bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others

If you have not provided personal information or lost any money, you do not need to contact your local police. North Okanagan residents are encouraged to report this, or any other frauds to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

READ MORE: Social media scams prompt warning from Vernon RCMP

READ MORE: British Columbians have lost $3.5M to cryptocurrency scams so far in 2021

Brendan Shykora
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Brendan Shykora

About the Author: Brendan Shykora

I started at the Morning Star as a carrier at the age of 8. In 2019 graduated from the Master of Journalism program at Carleton University.
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