An NWT man lost thousands of dollars online after he was convinced by scammers to purchase gift cards and share their pins in order to supposedly receive a cash prize.
The man, whose small community is not being identified to protect his identity, was contacted by a scammer over Facebook Messenger and told he had won money.
He was led to believe buying gift cards for the scammer was a legitimate way to claim a fraudulent larger prize – and didn’t realize it was a scam until he had handed over cards worth thousands.
RCMP said in a news release they are investigating the fraud, noting “numerous variations of this scam” have appeared in the territory over the past few years.
In other cases, police said, “the suspect will obtain employment details of a subject using an online phishing technique and pose as the person’s boss, and create a sense of urgency to purchase the cards and send the information right away.”
RCMP warned residents that if they are instructed to buy gift cards or send money to people other than close family and friends, “it is very likely a scam.”
“You should never reveal the pin number of a gift card to anyone you do not know, or online,” cautioned police, who also asked business owners to “question customers who are buying large amounts of gift cards, to make sure the person is not the unsuspecting victim of a fraud.”
“This type of fraud is easy to prevent but very difficult to investigate, as the suspects are often from other countries,” said Staff Sergeant Dean Riou of NWT RCMP’s federal investigations unit.
“Therefore it is imperative to be alive to these types of scams and all work together as a community to prevent this type of needless financial loss.”