Police issue warning after West Vancouver couple transfers $500K to scammers

Police in West Vancouver, B.C., are warning the public to beware telephone scams after a couple transferred half a million dollars to fraudsters posing as bank staff and police.

In a statement Tuesday, police said the scam began on Oct. 6, when the victims got a call on their home phone from someone who claimed to be a police officer investigating fraudulent activity on the couple’s debit card.

The victims were asked to contact their bank using the number listed on the back of their card. They then spoke with someone who identified himself as a fraud investigator, according to police.

They were given a reference number and told not to share it with anyone, including family, friends, or even other bank staff because the fraud investigator was conducting an internal investigation and didn’t want it to be compromised.

The ‘hang-up delay’

West Vancouver Const. Kevin Goodmurphy said this is not the first time police have received reports about this type of telephone scam, which is known as the “hang-up delay.”

“Callers are led to believe they are speaking with multiple people at multiple locations. In fact, the caller is simply staying on the other end of the line while the victim makes the calls, thus never actually disconnecting,” he said.

More of these types of calls were made before the victim set up a wire transfer of $500,000 after being convinced that their money was not safe at their bank, Goodmurphy said.

The victim eventually grew suspicious and contacted police, who advised them to speak to their bank immediately.

Goodmurphy said it is yet to be confirmed if the funds were successfully transferred, but the incident remains under investigation.

Police are reminding the public not to transfer money via any unsolicited phone call, email, or text message.

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