Mounties warn Cowichan about local cheque fraud

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Police say counterfeit cheques with Queen Margaret's School's logo and name stamped on them are circulating the Cowichan community.

Some have already fallen victim to the scam — and have lost thousands of dollars.

North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP spokesman Cpl. Kevin Day explained the scam starts with the counterfeit cheques, which are sent to Cowichanians.

The scammers then call the individuals, purporting to be investigators of an alleged embezzlement of funds through Western Union.

"Individuals who received the cheques were asked by phone to cash the cheques, ranging in amounts from $3,950 to $9,950, and send money to a Western Union account, while keeping $250 for themselves in exchange for the trouble," Day said.

"There have been some victims who have cashed the cheques as instructed by the scammer and subsequently forwarded funds to the fraudulent Western Union account. Those victims are now out several thousands of dollars."

Queen Margaret's School, which had been contacted by individuals who'd received the counterfeit cheques, advised the police of the fraud on Wednesday.

"Citizens need to use extreme caution if a similar phone call or third-party cheque of this nature is received," Day said. "If you have received similar requests by phone it is likely a scam. One can protect themselves by calling the cheque issuer to confirm it is legitimate."

For more information about this type of scam, and others, call Phonebusters at 1-888-495-8501 or visit the Phonebusters website.

"If anyone has fallen victim to this scam," Day added, "contact the North Cowichan/Duncan RCMP at 250-748-5522."

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