Mark Clairmont | MuskokaTODAY.com

ORILLIA Two local women who paid “fines” with gift cards and Bitcoin are among five bizarre fraud cases OPP are investigating this month.

Then there’s person who got hired to “work from home” and the first assignment was to transfer funds utilizing a crypto-currency platform.

How about a Kijiji scam where five people show up at your door looking for a dog after e-transferring money to buy a French Bulldog puppy.

Not done yet.

Another person got a $1,500 cheque with instructions to transfer $1,000 to an orphanage and keep $500.

Only it was a bad cheque.

March may be fraud prevention month, say police, but crazy crime happens all year they say.

People sitting at home thinking up ways to part you with your money.

Orillia warn the public of several frauds that occurred recently in the city and surrounding townships.

  • On Feb. 13 a local woman received a phone call from a male who identified himself as an RCMP officer. He said the woman had been fined for a crime and if she didn’t pay she would be arrested.

The woman was told to buy gift cards from a local business and give the card information over the phone — which she did.

  • On Feb. 3 police got similar report of another person posing as a Mountie — who again said the victim committed a crime and had been fined.

This victim was told to withdraw cash from a bank machine and take it to a Bitcoin machine located in Orillia to complete a transfer.

A large quantity of Bitcoin was sent to the fraudster as the victim believed that she would be arrested if she did not comply.

  • The following day, Feb. 4 OPP were called about an attempted fraud involving an offer of employment.

In this case, the potential victim posted a resume with an online employment company with the expectation that it would be shared with potential employers.

A representative of a company did make contact and offered the victim a job to “work from home.”

Police say it appears that the business is a legitimate one, but that the “representative” who made contact was not an employee.

As a result, information was shared with the “employer” and the first assignment was to transfer funds utilizing a crypto-currency platform.

The victim became suspicious and did not complete the requested transaction.

  • Also Feb.4 OPP were notified of a different fraud that used an Orillia residential address.

This time the victim responded to a Kijiji post offering a French Bulldog puppy for sale.

The victim e-transferred a percentage of the $3,000 fee as a down payment and later arrived at a Cleopatra Court residence to pick up the puppy.

Upon arrival, the victim learned that the resident had not posted the ad and that they had been a victim of fraud.

The resident also advised that four other individuals had come to the door under the same pretence.

  • Then on Feb. 12 another potential victim contacted police to report a fifth attempted fraud.

In this one the victim was sent a cheque for $1,500 with the instructions to send $1,000 to an orphanage and that the victim could keep the other $500 for her troubles.

The woman deposited the cheque into her account, but became suspicious and did not forward the requested funds.

The bank later advised her that the cheque was fraudulent.

Police offer these 5 related tips on fraud:

Tip #1: Legitimate businesses and services do not accept payment by gift cards or crypto-currency (Bitcoin for example). If you are asked to pay by any means other than traditional currency, it is most likely a fraud.

Tip #2: The police will not contact you to immediately pay a fine. In these cases, the caller can sound very convincing and can be very demanding.

Tip #3: If you receive an incoming call from what you believe is a legitimate business or service, always verify the organization by calling back on a phone number that you know is valid for that organization. Scammers can “spoof” phone numbers to appear to represent a legitimate business.

Tip #4: When responding to online ads, never send money in advance. The best practice is to meet face to face in a safe location and exchange the product for payment in person.

Tip #5: If receiving funds by cheque, always ensure that your financial institution clears the transaction prior to utilizing the funds.

March is Fraud Prevention Month. This annual campaign seeks to help you recognize, reject and report fraud. For more information regarding current scams and more tips on how to protect yourself from fraud, please visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm. If you or someone you know suspect they’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your local police service and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/report-signalez-eng.htm.

March is Fraud Prevention Month, but beware all year, warn police.

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