A new twist on an old scam has cost a Calgary woman all of her savings: $ 23,000.
“I went to the bank and took out cash like an idiot,” Deanna Thoms told Global News. “I took cash from my credit cards, I used up my savings.”
Thoms said it all started when he received a call last week from someone claiming to be with the Canada Border Services Agency. The caller told him that several packages with his name and address had been flagged for illegal activity and illegal content.
“They had drugs, money and I think they said weapons.”
She said the fake agent told her that to catch the real criminal they would need to launch an investigation. He added that they would need to freeze all of their assets, and to secure their funds, they would have to send all of their money to them.
Thoms said he was later ordered to go to their bank and take all the cash. During the entire time he was at the bank, the scammer sent him text messages telling him what to say and when to say it. He added that while he wishes the bank had asked him what was happening, he does not blame them.
“I have no one to blame other than myself,” she said.
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Thoms said that at one point he became very suspicious of the two-day ordeal and asked the caller about the legitimacy of the call.
She said they told an investigator with the Calgary Police Service (CPS) he would contact her directly to verify what was going on. He got a call, but because it came from a private number, he still had questions. She said she was later contacted again, this time by someone who used the CPS non-emergency phone number.
“He contacted me from the station, the station’s phone number, so I believed it.”
“Why shouldn’t I?” she added. “It came from the police station. I had no reason not to believe it. “
Now she wishes she had called the number herself.
A CPS spokesperson told Global News that scammers began spoofing CPS’s non-emergency phone number in 2019.
“In reality, the non-emergency CPS number will never appear on a call screen, even if the call originates from the Calgary Police Service. The call screen will show ‘locked’, ”the spokesperson said.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Center (CAFC) recently launched an alert In addition, warn that this type of fraud is not only evolving but is increasing.
“Scammers can call claiming to be the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA),” the alert reads.
“They are trying to make you believe that a package addressed to you was intercepted by Canada Post that contained illegal substances.”
The CAFC added that the scam is similar to other previously reported Service Canada, Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and RCMP phone extortion scams and that any recipient should ignore any of these calls.
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Thoms told Global News that she still can’t believe she fell in love, but added that the scammer knew a lot of personal details about her, including the fact that she was once again dealing with a cancer diagnosis.
They knew things about me, so I believed it. There are things that no one should have known, and they did, ”he said.
“Mentally, I was practically at the bottom of the barrel, and they just got me. I just don’t know what to say. “
What they didn’t get was more for their money, despite trying again. Thoms said they followed up with another request for $ 7,900 to pay a “special prosecutor.”
“Uh no,” he said. “It was then that I came back to reality and knew that I had been kidnapped.”
He hopes that, by speaking, he can save others in the same fate.
“If I can save a person from this, then all this humiliation of putting my face out there is worth it.”
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