WVPD are warning the community about an emerging scam, after one of their own officers was targeted earlier this week.
The scam, known as a “SIM Swapping,” involves criminals stealing personal information via mobile phones in order to gain access to bank accounts and other personal data.
This is how it works: A “fraudster” will impersonate a person and call a mobile service provider to request that their phone number be ported to a new SIM card.
Often, the fraudster will say this is due to a lost or stolen phone. The phone number is then ported to a new card, which allows the fraudster to link the victim’s number to a device that they now control.
At that point, the fraudster will download a series of popular apps (on-line banking, social media, email, etc.) and will select the “forgot password” button on all of them.
If an account is connected to a phone number or email address, via what is called two-factor authentication, the fraudster will receive a verification code on the new device.
They then use the code to confirm ownership of the account, create a new password, and take over the victim’s accounts.
From there, they gain direct access to personal information.
The WVPD officer in question, who is also the agencies Communications Officer, came very close to being defrauded of tens of thousands of dollars.
“This is an emerging fraud tactic and one that leaves the victim feeling quite vulnerable,” says Cst. Kevin Goodmurphy.
“I can now speak from personal experience, and have learned that there are more protective measures that I could have implemented prior to my phone being compromised.”
There are ways to protect yourself. These include:
- Keep all personal information personal. It is as simple as not publishing a date of birth on social media.
- Do not answer phishing emails or text messages asking to confirm a password or update account information.
- Use an offline password manager.
- Contact a phone provider and ask about additional security measures that may be available.
- If you lose mobile service on your device, contact a service provider immediately.
If anyone feels they have fallen victim to this, or any other scam, they can contact West Vancouver Police non-emergency line at 604-925-7300. In an emergency, call 9-1-1.
They can also report anonymously to Crime Stoppers at www.solvecrime.ca or by calling 1-800-222-8477.