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Latest scam sees fake VIHA cheques swapped for wired cash

VIHA is warning Cowichanians about an old scam with a new wrinkle; using fake VIHA cheques. - VIHA
VIHA is warning Cowichanians about an old scam with a new wrinkle; using fake VIHA cheques.
— image credit: VIHA

A new financial scam sees crooks using fake VIHA cheques to trick victims to wire funds from their accounts.

"It appears the scam so far has only targeted individuals in southern Ontario," says Suzanne Germain of the Vancouver Island Health Authority.

"VIHA is not aware of any B.C. or VIHA residents who have been targeted."

But don't let your guard down, Germaine warns in a release.

"The scam has been around for some time, and involves an organization offering individuals money to be a 'mystery shopper.'

"Potential victims are mailed information along with a cheque, and are asked to wire money from their own bank account to another account with the promise they can keep the balance once they cash the cheque – which is larger than the amount they are asked to wire."

The cheque's fake, but by the time this is realized, the victim has already wired the cash funds, she explained.

This fraud resembles a recent one reported by Peacock's Photo co-owner Kris Kann to the News Leader Pictorial.

"While the scam is not new, the use of fake VIHA cheques is new," Germain says.

"To an untrained eye, the VIHA cheques look real, although they are mailed from an Ontario address to another Ontario address.

"VIHA provides services on Vancouver Island, and would have no reason to use Ontario addresses for its financial or other business."

VIHA has been contacted by a few Ontarians questioning the correspondence and cheques, which is how the health authority became aware of the scam.

Victoria Police have been told too, but have not received any reports. The health authority has also notified police in Ontario, and its financial institution.

Key to avoiding scams and fraud is awareness and education, she says.

Extensive information is available on line through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre  at phonebusters.com/english/home-eng.

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