Many scam victims are contacted by phone or email. (Pixabay photo)

Do not try to trade gift cards for sex, says Princeton RCMP

Police warn of an increase in scamming activity

An uptick in complaints about scamming has prompted Princeton RCMP Sgt. Rob Hughes to issue a warning about suspicious phone calls and emails.

“No one from another country wants to come here to have sexual relations with you in exchange for gift cards,” Hughes told the Spotlight.

Such an incident is just one of the reports the local detachment has received recently, and many of the calls police are getting involve gift card purchases.

In a district with a population of approximately 5,600, police are now receiving an average of one call a week.

Hughes said if anyone is contacted and asked to pay for goods, services or promises with gift cards, “It is 100 per cent, I guarantee you, a scam.”

Anyone who responds “is creating an untraceable flow of cash for a criminal.”

Other recent scams floated in the community include people being contacted by ‘government agencies’ threatening warrants for their arrest and asking for payment, and people being phoned claiming a grandchild is in jail and money is needed for his or her release.

Related: ‘We have your grandson’ – Princeton seniors scammed out of thousands of dollars

“The police are never going to phone you and ask you to transfer money for bail.”

Local authorities can do little to help scam victims, he added, as the schemes are generally web-based and “international.”

He said people burned by scammers suffer severe consequences.

“It’s heartbreaking … People lose their life savings and for some people that’s $2,000 and for others that’s $200,000.”

Anyone who has been asked to pay money under suspicious circumstances, or buy gift cards, should call police before they transfer funds, Hughes added.

“They forget that thing we’ve been taught since we were little children … if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Anyone who suspects they have been a victim of fraud should call the government’s Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

According to that organization, the losses from fraud so far this year in Canada are mushrooming. As of July 31, 2021 people have lost $130 million to fraud, compared to $106 million for the whole of the previous year.

Related: Rental scam hits North Okanagan

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