The RCMP Federal Policing Prevention and Engagement and the Bank of Canada presented at a KPU webinar on being aware of fraud and counterfeit currency. The event featured speakers Cpl. Vinh Ngo from the RCMP, and Farid Salji from the Bank of Canada.
Both organizations hold various events throughout the year discussing fraud and how to be aware of it. This webinar was meant for students who are new to the country and might not be aware of the different ways scammers can target people.
Ngo says the Federal Policing Prevention and Engagement looks at scams and frauds, and monitors trends and ways to prevent them. They also create informational sessions for groups that are likely to be targeted, like seniors or students who are new to the country.
Throughout the webinar, attendees had the opportunity to ask more detailed questions on avoiding scams. The Bank of Canada and the Federal Policing Prevention and Engagement frequently collaborate, to inform people about legal currencies and how to recognize counterfeit bills.
In the webinar, Salji and Ngo gave examples of some of the ways scammers target people. For example when individuals resell their old electronic devices, scammers purchase them with counterfeit bills. Some people might not know they’ve received a counterfeit until they use it to purchase items at a store. If this is the case and the bill is denied, Salji recommends that the person hold onto the bill and take the bill to law enforcement for verification.
If the retailer wants to call the police, Salji said the person should wait until the police get there and verify the bill to see if it is a counterfeit.
“But that’s kind of one of the scenarios, so we teach them how to check it so they can verify and know in a second. They just need to actually pay attention to it,” says Salji.
Since retailers are not always experts on verifying counterfeit bills, Salji says they can make a mistake, and the person could end up losing their money.
Another popular scam is the rental scam, says Ngo.
“Not knowing the customer or the process and having the pressure of finding a place before they come to Canada, they just want to come and have an apartment off-campus, sign the agreement online, and really everything is signed unseen. And then the [scammer] has gone away with the money and is not returning in contact with the student.”
Some individuals coming into the country worry about how they can carry their money since they can’t set up a bank account before coming into the country, and Salji and Ngo warned against carrying large amounts of cash.
In the webinar, Ngo said some people hang around airports and look for travellers carrying cash. There are teams of people who work really well at distracting the victims and stealing their money.
“You don’t have to physically carry your money. You can also wire to financial institutions awaiting your arrival. You can take traveller’s cheques [or] bring credit cards,” Salji said.
Another webinar addressing this topic is planned to take place on Sept. 22.