Phone scam making rounds

A phone scam common in the United States has made an appearance in Penticton. 

A Castanet News reader, who would like to stay anonymous, says last week she was contacted by a “private number” who claimed to be a Michael Ross of Publisher Clearing House International. 

She was randomly picked and had won $185,000. 

“He knew my full name and current address,” she said. “He asked if I would be home on Aug. 22 between 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. because himself, his boss and a member from our local RCMP would be at my home to award me with the prize.”

The man told the Penticton resident that $9,500 in duty taxes would have to be paid on the prize, but they would cover it.

After asking what bank she dealt with (RBC), the scammer gave her a business account bank number from TD Canada.

“He said he would transfer me to RBC and a representative would handle the transfers,” she said. “Stating that they would put the money ($9,500) in my account and then I would pay the duty tax.”

When the transfer took place, a recording played “exactly the same” as one used by RBC. 

The bogus RBC representative assured the woman that it was not a scam, and began to request information to “verify” her account, asking for her bank number and security code. 

At that point, the Penticton woman told the man she thought it was a scam and hung up, but not before the scammer called her a “bozo” while trying to convince her it was a real giveaway. 

Fraudulently posing as Publishers Clearing House is an “oldie but a goodie” for scammers, according to the United States Federal Trade Commission. While it is common in the United States, it has been reported far less frequently in Canada.

While Publishers Clearing House is a real organization that hands out prizes, it will never request funds to release a prize and only contacts winners by mail or in person. 

Personal information should never be given out over the phone. 

Canadians that believe they have been approached by a scammer are urged to report the situation to the federal Anti-Fraud Centre.

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