Frauds and scams a concern for seniors, newcomers

RCMP, Tri-Cities Literacy Commitee hosting talks to raise awareness about identity theft and other scams

From the Chinese arrest scam to the bogus Canada Revenue Agency threat for non-payment of taxes, thousands of Canadians are targeted by international scam artists each day and Tri-City residents are not immune.

By phone, text and email, international scam artists are trying to extract cash, gift cards and even crypto currency from unsuspecting individuals, many of them trusting seniors or newcomers to Canada who are unsure of local laws and agencies.

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“If you’re a newcomer to Canada you are probably more vulnerable than somebody who is raised here and a lot of elderly are potential victims,” says Ann Johannes, coordinator of the Tri-Cities Literacy Committee, whose agency is hosting a scam prevention workshop for newcomers and seniors Friday, Feb. 22.

Her organization works with organizations responsible for English language instruction for newcomers and will be hosting the workshop to explain how to avoid being victimized.

The workshop follows an education effort by the Coquitlam RCMP to warn people about scams. In January, the local police force issued its top five list of the most prevalent scams targeting Canadians.


They include the Canada Revenue Agency scam that usually involves an offshore caller claiming that taxes are owing and must be paid immediately in Bitcoin or gift cards.

Another scam involving overseas calls is what police refer to as the Chinese arrest scam. In these instances, a victim receives a call usually in Mandarin or Cantonese and are told there is a warrant for their arrest in China.

Identity theft is also common and residents should be careful about where they leave their personal information and documents and collect their mail regularly. Identity fraud resulting from theft from a vehicle is also common. Police also warn of fraudulent vehicle purchases and pyramid schemes involving the payment of cash as gifts with the promise of large payouts.

Johannes said the RCMP will be delivering the talk Friday, Feb. 22 from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Coquitlam City Council Chambers, 3000 Guildford Way, Coquitlam. The talk is free but people should RSVP to


Meanwhile, Coquitlam RCMP community police stations are planning their own fraud talk on Tuesday, March 19 from 6-8:30 p.m. at The Outlet, 1100-2253 McAllister Ave., Port Coquitlam. Among the topics that will be discussed are the following: how to protect yourself from identify theft, how to spot a scam, what to do if you’ve fallen for a scam, how to stay safe when shopping online. The event is free, but register by emailing or call 604-945-1586.

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