After North Shore residents were swindled of thousands of dollars by deceptive phone calls, West Vancouver police teamed up with U.K. authorities on ongoing investigations that resulted in funds being returned in one case and one arrest thus far.
On January 11, a 70-year-old resident of West Vancouver reported being contacted by phone from two suspects, with one posing as a bank-fraud investigator and the other pretending to be a Vancouver police inspector. The pair claimed that because the victim’s credit card and accounts had been compromised, she needed to urgently transfer funds out of her account for protection.
The victim transferred $185,000 into a Royal Bank of Scotland account but later contacted police. Consequently, the West Vancouver Police Department (WVPD) notified United Kingdom police and bank authorities to freeze the transfer.
The transferred funds were returned to the victim and the investigation is continuing on to identify the suspects.
In a second case, police in Bedfordshire, England, arrested a 27-year-old Bedford man on January 21 on charges of acquiring, using or possessing criminal property, and concealing, disguising, converting, transferring or removing criminal property. He will remain in custody until a court appearance on February 25.
The suspect was arrested in relation to a WVPD investigation that began in April 2018 after a West Vancouver resident reported being defrauded of over $800,000.
This victim had also been contacted by suspects who claimed to be bank fraud investigators and a Vancouver police officer. The victim made a series of transfers over several days to a U.K. bank before realizing it was a scam.
An investigation to track and recover the transferred funds continues on.
The WVPD is warning residents not to transfer funds in response to requests from unknown individuals by phone, email, or online messages, and to not give out any personal information by phone.
According to the WVPD, banks and financial institutions won’t advise anyone to transfer funds to external accounts for security reasons. The WVPD recommends visiting banks or financial institutions in person to make any inquiries.
Anyone who has become a victim of fraud is advised to contact police immediately, and anyone who receives a suspicious phone call should hang up and contact police from a different phone line.