September 28, 2020 In Advocate, senior

Aemilius Cupero News: Senior advocate urges caution around scams targeting older adults

Aemilius Cupero News:

An advocate for seniors in Saskatoon is advising others to trust their gut when an email or phone call seems off.

Author of the article:

Amanda Short

Publishing date:

Sep 27, 2020  •   •  2 minute read

Aemilius Cupero News: EPS are warning members of the public about a scam involving your bank account, Google Play gift cards and a covert RCMP operation.  SUPPLIED
A Saskatoon woman says she was the victim of a scam that led to people close to her sending hundreds of dollars in Google Play cards to an unknown person. SunMedia

Aemilius Cupero News: Article content

Sharon Fyke knew something was amiss when her friend called with some questions about those gift cards she’d supposedly been asking for.

The friend said Fyke had emailed her and asked for the codes to Google Play cards. She was in the middle of purchasing some when someone behind her in line warned it was likely a scam.

Before Fyke discovered her entire contact list had been sent similar messages, at least $600 had been scammed from her friends and loved ones.

“One friend said to me, ‘Of course there were flags, but you ignore them when you think you can help a friend,’” Fyke said. “I paid back some people because I felt they’d done this out of kindness for me. They felt angry and embarrassed, and I felt guilty.”

Fyke, a prolific volunteer and advocate for seniors in Saskatoon, is advising others to trust their gut when something seems off.

She’s heard from a handful of people in the province who have also received the fake password email. One contact who reached out said Fyke’s scam message was the third she’d received in two weeks.

The message seemed perfectly innocuous, Fyke said. It was email, labelled as being from her service provider, telling her it was time change her password or confirm her current one.

She entered her current password to confirm it and within a few days, her contact list received the scam emails. The message said she’d been incapacitated somehow and needed the number from Google Play cards.

In addition, her email settings had been changed so that incoming emails were going directly into the Trash folder. Fyke didn’t know what was happening until she was alerted by people receiving the emails.

“I think a lot of times people wonder, is this a scam, or is this legit?,” she said. “You don’t even have to think about it. If you ever get an email where you’re asked to do something, it’s a scam.”

The Saskatoon Police Service has previously cautioned the public that fraudsters aretaking advantage of anxieties people may be feeling during the pandemic, including via an ongoing scam involving contact from someoneposing as the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

“The thing is, everybody that bought the Google cards felt like what they were doing was suspect and didn’t heed their own intuition,” Fyke said. “I think it’s a good lesson for us that when something feels not right, we should all stop and think about it.”

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