West Vancouver police warn about emerging mobile phone SIM swapping scam

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      After a West Vancouver Police Department (WVPD) officer was targeted by an emerging mobile phone scam, the WVPD has issued a warning to citizens about this tech-based crime.

      In a scam known as SIM swapping, fraudsters will steal personal information from mobile phones to access bank accounts or other personal data.

      A fraudster impersonates a victim while calling a mobile service provider and will claim that their phone has been lost or stolen. The fraudster will then ask for their phone number (which is the victim’s phone number) to be ported, or transferred, to a new SIM card on a new device, which the fraudster possesses. (The transfer can be done remotely, without the phone or SIM card physically present.)

      After the transfer, the fraudster will download apps (for things like online banking, social media, email, and more) and will select the “forgot password” option on all of them.

      If an account is connected to a phone number or email address, the fraudster will receive a verification code on the new device. They will use the code to confirm ownership of the account, create a new password, and take over the victim’s accounts, gaining access to personal information.

      WVPD communications officer Cst. Kevin Goodmurphy was targeted by this scam but managed to avoid being defrauded of thousands of dollars.

      Accordingly, to avoid falling victim to this scam, the WVPD offers the following tips: 

      • keep all personal information personal, such as avoid publishing your date of birth on social media;
      • don't answer phishing emails or text messages asking to confirm a password or update account information;
      • use an offline password manager;
      • contact a phone provider and ask about additional security measures that may be available;
      • if you lose mobile service on your device, contact a service provider immediately.

      Anyone who may have fallen victim to this scam can contact the WVPD non-emergency line at 604-925-7300 or report anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477.  Anyone in an emergency should call 911.

      More information is available at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.