The email, as Willier describes it, was very specific to the local business, with the business name as the title, an address and a telephone number in Grande Prairie.
âThe only thing that was wrong was the end of the email,â she said.
After being offered the job, Willer says she felt she asked all the right questions, sent multiple emails, and had a handful of phone calls with the scammer.
“In our emails and conversations, (the scammer) was very professional, and I questioned them harshly along the way.”
Willier says that at the time, she didn’t think the work was too good to be true, as it involved basic daily chores, such as picking up and dropping off items like gift cards, which needed to be paid in advance, out of his own pocket.
“It was errands, and (the scammer) was in touch every day and when I was doing a task, (they) would say ‘it’s gonna be four to seven hours a week and I’ll let you know when I need it. you, âshe explained.
“So (the scammer) would send me these tasks, and say ‘there are going to be three today’, and send them one at a time.”
Willier says that by the time she questioned the situation, about a week and a half after she started working for the fraudster, it was around the same time that she found out that her first “paycheck.” had been bounced.
“When I went to get paid, the checks (the scammer) written to me were fraudulent, so yes they were in my name, and no I had never met (the scammer), but with COVID and everything being online I didn’t do that don’t question, âshe said.
âLooking back now, I was in a desperate situation of ‘I have to move on and I have to do thisâ¦ and I have to pay my rent and the bills are coming in. “”
When the checks that Willier had deposited were bounced, she says the bank froze the funds, however, she says the bank always gave her access to the money if she needed it.
After Willier and the bank confirmed the checks were fraudulent, she says the bank froze her account, which completely cut off all access until the money was refunded.
âNow I no longer have a bank account. I have to pay for this and I don’t have a bank account, she pointed out. âI received my employment insurance and it is suspended because I have this money owed. ”
Willier tells EverythingGP that she is sharing her scam situation to help prevent this from happening to anyone in the future.
After posting her story on social media, Willier said several people contacted her, claiming to have been the victim of the same scam.
She adds that she reported the situation to the RCMP.
Due to the situation, the Grande Prairie RCMP are offering scam prevention tips:
As technology advances, Sgt. Shawn Graham of the Grande Prairie RCMP says crooks sometimes pose as seemingly trustworthy sources, to trick victims into providing personal and / or financial information.
With that, before providing any information, he suggests that the best defense is to learn how to spot potential fraud.
“If you’re not sure if you’re the target of a scam, check with friends, check with family, visit the Government of Canada website, and find out what common types of scams exist and how to protect yourself. .
Graham suggests that crooks can and will adapt whatever they do to get the information they want from their targets, which is why he stresses the importance of doing research before providing personal information.
âSo you have to take the information and then check the sources of information (like) contacting these companies directly and trying to get the phone number legitimately for those companies as well,â he said.
“And the people you deal with can also verify that they are employees of that company, and there is nothing wrong with verifying to confirm that information.”
He says calls from area codes or unknown numbers, as well as emails from unknown senders or addresses, even slightly delayed, should always set off an alarm signal.
“That red flag should go off and you should be wondering about this information, online or over the phone.”
This also includes the use of extra caution when processing wire transfers or checks from unknown parties.
Victims of fraud are urged to report the situation to their local RCMP detachment or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center online.
If financial information is compromised, Graham suggests contacting the bank to cancel credit cards or associated accounts.