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Burnaby victim got bank account 'cleaned out' in cell phone scam

Victim steps forward to warn others
iStock photo

It all started with stolen mail.

It ended with no money in Sharon’s bank account.

Now Sharon is sharing her story so people will pay attention if their mail goes missing.

“I figured some of my mail had maybe been stolen because a few bills didn’t show up,” said Sharon, who didn’t want her last name used because, well, she’s shy about her personal information now. “But I didn’t react and contact the source of the bills. It ended up biting me.”

In the spring, Burnaby RCMP reminded residents to be vigilant when releasing personal information after receiving reports of a scam that ends up with people’s bank accounts being "emptied."

Sharon saw that story and contacted the now.

“That’s exactly what happened to me,” she said. “Thankfully, I didn’t have a lot of money in that account. It could have been a lot worse but my bank account got cleaned out.”

The scam involves the scammer gaining access to the victim’s name and cell phone number, most often by stealing mail, say local RCMP.

“The scammer will then call the cell phone provider and impersonate the victim to gain access to their account and port the phone number to another SIM card and phone,” says a police news release. “Once access is gained, the scammer then downloads a series of the most popular and most attractive applications. They will select the 'Forgot Password' button on all applications. If an account is associated to your phone number or email address, the fraudster will receive a verification code. They will then use this code to confirm ownership of the account, create their own password and takeover the accounts.”

According to police, with this information, they may:

  • Empty your bank accounts;
  • Apply for credit in your good name, and
  • Impersonate you to defraud your entire contact list.

To better protect yourself from this type of scam, police offer these tips:

  • Do not answer text messages or emails asking for your personal information;
  • Ensure you check your mail regularly;
  • If you lose service on your device, contact your service provider immediately by calling them directly;
  • Enquire about any added security features to your account that would require a secure PIN/verification question prior to number porting, and
  • Report all scams to police.