Lottery & Prize Winner Scams

Lottery and prize winning scams come in many shapes and forms. Don’t fall for fantastic offerings of foreign lottery winnings, dream vacations, exciting prizes of money, a new car, a shopping spree or new technology, especially if you don’t recall entering to win such offerings. Unexpected prize and lottery scams rely on your excitement, to dupe you into paying fees to claim your prize, or into providing private personal, banking and credit card information for purposes of identity theft.

CONSUMER TIP: It is illegal to win money in a lottery from a country to which you are not a citizen, and typically a resident. Legitimate lotteries and prize giveaways do not require you to pay fees or taxes in advance to claim your winnings. Keep track of all contest, lottery and prize entry forms that you fill out. Make sure you know what items you may be eligible to win, when the award will be announced and where it is coming from. Never wire transfer money to claim a prize. Use caution when phoning to claim a prize. Know that some long-distance phone numbers charge a premium rate and can be very expensive to call. Don’t give out credit card or private personal information to claim a prize.


3rd Party Application Services

Use caution when hiring third-parties to assist with filling out and submitting applications for government services, grants and loans. A variety of different organizations and businesses offer “pay-for” services to assist people with filling out applications for disability grants, passport applications, loans and debt consolidation, as well as other government services. While many of these organizations and business are legitimate service providers, there are also many scam artists claiming to provide similar services and targeting unsuspecting victims.

CONSUMER TIP: Legitimate “for-a-fee” application completion service providers typically charge money to assist customers in ensuring that their applications are filled out in full and submitted properly, in a timely fashion. Such services are usually intended to make the application process run smoothly for those with language barriers, disabilities, or a general lack of time. Before hiring such agents, it is vital that you weigh the costs versus benefits, that you clearly understand the specific services you are receiving, and that you understand the risks of providing personal information to a third party.


Tech Support Scams

Consumers are aggressively being targeted (by phone, email and online pop ups) by fraudsters pretending to represent Microsoft, Apple or other Tech Support companies. Victims are contact and informed that their computer has been infected with a virus. In order to “fix” the problem, the victim is directed to a website, asked to provide their credit card information as payment, and told to download an anti-virus program.

CONSUMER TIP: Computer manufacturers will not contact you to let you know if there is a problem with your computer. Computer upgrades, maintenance and virus scanning are the responsibility of the computer owner. Treat all unsolicited contact via phone, email or pop-ups with skepticism. Never give out personal or banking information to anyone unless you are confident you can trust the source. Be sure to independently install anti-virus software and update it regularly.


Foreign Money Transfers

New twists on the Nigerian Letter scam continue to dupe unsuspecting victims. Beware emotionally charged letters, emails and social media posts from people in foreign countries asking for financial assistance, discovering inheritance money, offering investment opportunities or suggesting the need to transfer money for any reasons. In most instance when an unknown party requests a wire or money transfer to a stranger in foreign country, the story is a lie and your money will be stolen.

CONSUMER TIP: Never wire or transfer money or share private credit card and banking information with strangers unless you are comfortable losing your money or having your information stolen. Money transfers are virtually untraceable once sent and received. Beware complex cheque cashing and money transfer schemes, in which a cheque is given to you or money is deposited into your account, and you are then to write a cheque or send money to someone else. Overpayment schemes and identity theft are common outcomes from foreign money transfer scams.

British Columbia

CRA Phone Scam

Scammers posing as Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) employees continue to contact Canadians, misleading them into paying false debt.

These persistent scammers have created fear among people who now automatically assume that any communication from someone representing the CRA is not genuine.

If you receive a phone call from a person claiming to be from the CRA please remember they will never ask for,

  •  Personal information about your passport, health card or drivers license.Demand immediate payment by Interac e-transfer, bitcoin, prepaid credit cards or gift cards from retailers such as iTunes, Amazon, or others
  • use aggressive language or threaten you with arrest or sending the police
  •  leave voicemails that are threatening

Make sure the caller is a CRA employee before you give any information over the phone,

  • Ask for or make a note of the callers name, work section and office location and tell them that you want to first verify their identity.
  • You can then check that the employee calling you about your taxes works for the CRA or that the CRA did contact you by calling 1-800-959-8281 for individual or 1-800959-5525 for businesses.

To report a CRA scam you can go online and report at or call 1-888-495-8501.

( above information taken from Government of Canada online site )

If you think you may be the victim of fraud or you unknowingly provided personal or financial information, please contact your local police service and financial institution.

British Columbia

Sim-Swap Scam

The Sim-Swap Scam is on the rise in Canada. TELUS has a post that covers the scam in detail.

Some takeaway points to be aware of, to prevent yourself in being a victim of this scam

  • Guard your phone and number. Have a password set on your phone to lock the phone when its not in use, and avoid sharing out your phone number
  • Use Strong Passwords for your online bank accounts. Don’t use a single password thats easy to guess for all your accounts.
  • Set up accounts using Multi-Factor-Authentication and avoid using a text based Two-Step-Authentication
  • Watch out incase your phone stops working, or if you get a text from your provider that your number is being changed to another provider.

If you have fallen victim to this scam. Please reach out to your local RCMP detachment, and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501


More Phone Fraud

Recently through the media the Central Okanagan RCMP warned residents of a scam involving an elderly Kelowna grandmother who lost $14,000.She was panicked into sending money due to being told an urgent situation had occurred with a family member that required immediate payment.  Commonly used scenarios involve an arrest or accident involving family member or friend while travelling abroad.Monies are needed to cover hospital expenses, lawyer fees or police / court bail.Often the potential victim is instructed to send money via a money service such as Western Union or MoneyGram.Please be very careful and protect yourself when you receive unexpected  phone calls informing you of a family member emergency. 

Please take your time and verify the information provided.  Ask the caller questions that only the family member or friend is able to answer.Confirm the whereabouts of the family member or friend with other relatives.Never voluntarily give out family members names or information to unknown callers.Police, Judges or legal entities will never make urgent requests for money.Always question urgent requests for money.Before you send money to anyone take some advice from a relative or close friend.