A common phone scam involving the purchase of iTunes cards drained more than $85,000 out of Canadians’ wallets in 2016. File photo/ Jessica Peters/The Progress

B.C. senior scammed out of $2,000

A Kelowna family is warning others after a senior nearly lost his savings

A Kelowna family is urging other B.C. residents to watch out for a scam that nearly cost an 80-year-old man his entire savings account.

The family, which asked to stay anonymous for the sake of the victim, wanted to share their story to try to save another senior from the same fate.

It all started with a fairly common scam. A call came to the senior’s land line from a ‘very kind sounding man’ who offered to upgrade his computer and download a ‘helpful’ new program.

Very similar to the ‘Microsoft Scam’ model where cyber criminals claim to be from Microsoft and offer to help solve your computer problems or sell you a software license. Once they have access to your computer, they can wreak havoc.

In this case the Kelowna senior bought the ‘software’ from the man and thought everything was all right. He paid $400 for this fraudulent software.

Two weeks later the scammer called back, now claiming the senior owed them a bunch more money.

There was much back and forth and the senior felt the man had provided a service and that he did, in fact, owe the man the remaining bill of $2,000.

The man told him to purchase iTunes gift cards to pay off the remaining bill.

Once convinced the senior headed to Walmart to purchase the iTunes gift cards as instructed. He asked the store for 20-$100 gift cards totalling $2,000.

The Walmart staff questioned the purchase and asked the senior if he was sure he needed these items. The Kelowna man told them he had “18 grandkids” he was buying them for. The store allowed the purchase and the senior went home.

Related: Scams, like spring, are in the air

Once home his wife got suspicious as she said he was acting strange and wouldn’t explain what he was doing.

When she saw him scratching off the back of one of the cards to read the number to the scammer over the phone she stepped in. The scammer attempted to stop the wife’s intervention by telling the senior to lock her out of the room, but the wife prevailed.

She grabbed the iTunes gift cards and the phone and made a new call, she knew she had to get her children involved. It was at this point that the senior realized the whole thing was a scam.

Fortunately, no gift card information was ever given over to the cyber criminal.

The Kelowna couple was devastated and phoned the Kelowna RCMP and their local bank — who were both extremely helpful. A fraud file was opened and the RCMP told them to head back to Walmart and try to return the gift cards.

The next day they were flat out told by a manager at the Kelowna Walmart that they were out of luck. Even though the cards were not used, Walmart does not allow the return of gift cards. The RCMP officer told the family she was surprised Walmart would have sold the cards to the man, knowing it was a likely scam, and surprised they wouldn’t return his money.

Fortunately his family was not ready to back down, despite what the initial Walmart manager had said.

His children and grandchildren got involved at this point and were able to confirm through both iTunes and Walmart Corporate that they do have the ability to refund the money if the cards are not used.

Two more visits to Walmart and a new ‘more helpful’ store manager later, the senior was refunded in full for all but one of the $100 gift cards, the company could not take back the scratched one.

In this case the senior was fortunate to get his money back, but many seniors are not.

This iTunes gift card scam is now so prevalent some stores in the USA and Canada are limiting the amount of gift cards that they will sell you at any given time.

Related: Chilliwack woman warns of tax evasion phone scam

The Kelowna Walmart told the Cap News all staff involved in the sale of the gift cards were spoken too and that staff had followed procedure to warn the senior.

The RCMP warns all Canadians that any time you are asked to pay for a service or product with an iTunes gift card, it is a scam.

“Hanging up the phone is the best course of action you can take,” said the RCMP.

You only need to call your local RCMP detachment if you have been victimized by the scam.

“RCMP always recommend you consult with a family member or close friend before taking any action.”

For more information on frauds and fraud prevention tips, please visit the B.C. RCMP website or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.


@carmenweld
carmen.weld@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The Red Deer Home Renovation & Design Show runs through to Sunday at Westerner Park

Lots of ideas for fall renovation, decor, design, organization, construction and indoor living projects

Red Deer RCMP investigate second failed ATM theft attempt

This is the second attempt to steal the ATM from Eastview IGA in less than a week

Get your scare on at the annual Zed Haunted House

The haunted house opens tonight at 6833 66th St.

Singer k.d. lang receives Alberta’s highest honour

Celebrated singer-songwriter k.d. lang received the Alberta Order of Excellence in Edmonton

‘Mom, I’m in trouble:’ Canadian faces 10 years for alleged graffiti

Brittney Schneider, another tourist caught spraying message on walls of Tha Pae Gate in Thailand

Feds consulting on national anti-racism strategy behind closed doors

Heritage Minister Pablo Rodriguez says people still face systemic racism in some communities

Pot sales down by nearly 70% on Day 2 of legalization in B.C.

Several products on BC Cannabis Store are still sold out

Colourfully named cannabis products appeal to youth, Tory health critic says

Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu says the Liberal government needs to do more to ensure cannabis products available online are not enticing to young people

B.C. high school teacher faces sexual assault charges

A Mt. Boucherie teacher has been charged with child luring, sexual exploitation and sexual assault.

Fashion Fridays: You can never have enough shoes

Kim XO, lets you know the best online shopping tips during Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

Migrants, police mass in town on Guatemala-Mexico border

Many of the more than 2,000 Hondurans in a migrant caravan trying to wend its way to the United States left spontaneously with little more than the clothes on their backs and what they could quickly throw into backpacks.

Trump: ‘Severe’ consequences if Saudis murdered Khashoggi

Pro-government newspaper Yeni Safak on Wednesday said it had obtained audio recordings of the alleged killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul on Oct. 2.

Most Read