White Rock residents – many of them seniors – were bilked of more than $1 million dollars by confidence tricksters in 2022.
That was one of the principal revelations in Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls annual report to city council on Monday (Feb. 13).
“That’s the item that, out of the year, that is the greatest concern to me,” Pauls told the Peace Arch News following the meeting.
“That’s a lot of money.”
Fraud cases, along with property crimes and mischief, accounted for 53 per cent of all the criminal offences investigated by the detachment last year, Pauls told council.
Fraud cases typically targeted seniors, he said.
“The detachment provides a confidential assessment to anybody that receives a request for money or any other personal information, so I highly encourage the public to come to the detachment, or call the non-emergency line for any unexpected calls where private information or money is asked for.
“Our officers will assess what they have and give advice on that. We’ll also liaise with the banks, or anybody they need help with, to figure out if this is a fraud or not.”
Pauls said investigations have shown that the imagined profile of off-shore perpetrators is largely incorrect.
“The suspects in a lot of these offenses are not overseas – many of them are actually located in the region,” he said.
In response to a question from mayor Megan Knight, Pauls added that the scam commonly seen in warning news items – typically involving a grandson or other relative in jail and needing bail –has largely been replaced by other scenarios.
“The ones that end up in the news end up fading away and new ones start,” he said.
“There’s a new one, like, today – they’re new all the time. I can’t talk specifically about some of the cases, but people are so convincing on the phone, (in having) people hand over information and money and transfer funds.”
Checking with the police before acting is the best policy, he said.
“We’ve seen the whole variety of frauds, so we pretty much know what’s a fraud,” he added.
Coun. Christopher Trevelyan wondered whether there was anything more the city could do to encourage the senior population to be wary of such scams.
“I think the message is just for the community to come and see us,” Pauls said.
“To a trained investigator it’s relatively easy to see the red flags. If there is something even slightly suspicious about a call… come see us.”