A Calgary woman has racked up a $3,000 credit card bill following an elaborate ruse.
“I feel like a complete and total idiot.”
Shannon, whom Global News has not identified for safety reasons, said it started when she got a call from someone pretending to be from Mastercard.
The man said her card had been compromised and that it would be cancelled and a new one issued. He then hung up.
But a few moments later, he called back and said her card had now been copied.
“He asked me: was I willing to help the RCMP and Mastercard help to find the culprits?” Shannon said.
Worried about identity theft, she agreed.
He then told her to go to nearby retailers and purchase Google Play cards, which the thieves were also supposedly buying with her copied card.
He said that was the only way they’d be able to track them down.
“They would know it was my credit card versus the other person’s because of my pin number.”
The ongoing Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam has resulted in retailers being trained to question customers making large gift card purchases.
One retailer did question her purchases but Shannon said she did as instructed by the caller, who was still on the phone.
“I said, ‘No, these are Easter gifts for my grandchildren.”
She then went home, scratched off the card and pin numbers and gave them to the fake Mastercard representative.
He called back the next day, asking her to do it again, but Shannon said by that time, she had called police and found out it was a scam.
She was surprised by his response when she called him out on it.
“He said, ‘Take comfort in the fact that I only took you for $3,000. I’ve managed to scam a lot of people for a lot more.’”
Calgary police detective Matt Frederiksen is with the Economic Crimes Unit.
He told Global News the problem is that the scams are evolving every day, and while people may think they know them all, new ones pop up all the time.
But Frederiksen added there are ways to protect yourself.
“If it doesn’t feel right, don’t act on it,” he said.
“If someone is trying to keep you on the phone or telling you not to hang up or telling you to lie about why you need to do something, it’s not going to be legitimate.”
Police do advise anyone who thinks they have been scammed to contact them and they will investigate the complaints whenever possible. However, Frederiksen also said the challenge they run into is that often these frauds are being committed by people outside of the country, so tracking them down can be tough.
Shannon doesn’t know where the caller was calling from; only that he knew her name and where she lived.
She wished she had just hung up the phone and called her credit card company for verification. She’s on a fixed income and doesn’t know how she’ll pay her credit card bill and just hopes others will learn from her costly mistake.