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Quick-thinking Burnaby nephew saves ‘favourite’ auntie from new prescription scam

More reports coming in about a new scam
(via iStock)

Phil is a pretty proud father.

The Burnaby dad (who doesn’t want his full name used because this story involves criminals) read a story on the NOW’s website about a new scam that targets people who take prescription medicine and reached out to tell how his son foiled a scammer.

Phil’s son, who is 16, was visiting his “favourite” auntie in North Burnaby recently when the phone. Auntie – who is in her 80s – picked up her landline (yes, some people still have those) and started talking to someone.

“His auntie was sounding all flustered about why the pharmacist was calling her at this time of day,” said Phil. “She said, ‘Why can’t I pay when I pick it up?’ That’s when my son took action. He grabbed the phone and asked what was going on. There was silence on the other end and just breathing so my son hung up. I’m sure it was a scammer. They wanted her to pay for the prescription over the phone.”

This isn’t just some isolated case, as other jurisdictions have reported seeing a recent surge in reports of this scam that targets people who take prescription medicine.

The fraud involves someone cold-calling residents, purporting to be from a local pharmacy and claiming their script has been filled. They just need a credit card number to process it, the grift goes.

“We had, over the course of last week, about 30 calls about the exact same scam. That's only those that have chosen to call police about it. There's likely way more,” said Const. Kevin Goodmurphy, West Vancouver police spokesman, in a story for our sister paper the North Shore News. “They’re guessing. They’re hoping that someone has a standing order with a local pharmacy. Enough people do that, that it wouldn’t be strange for many people to get that call.”

Taking the scam a step further, the caller would sometimes offer home delivery of the drugs, which requires the victim to hand over their home address, another piece of personal info that can be used in identity theft.

These days, Goodmurphy said, it’s good to be guarded about releasing any personal information over the phone. If there is any doubt, hang up and double check the number so you can call back yourself or venture there in person, he said.

“It's pretty reasonable to think your pharmacy wouldn't necessarily be phoning and looking for credit card information,” he said.

Good advice to remember. Please, if you know someone who could fall victim to this, take a few minutes to discuss this advice with them.

Not everyone has a good nephew to step in.

  • With additional reporting by Brent Richter, North Shore News