A local company, Stoke Solutions, recently found itself targeted by a scam artist and it wants other local businesses and residents to be aware that a “very convincing” con man is looking for easy marks.
“Our company has recently been a target for an e-mail scam going around,” Tanya Egli said in an e-mail to The Current. “A man named Donald Webb, claiming to come to town on a business trip asked us for information on our services. He claimed he was on an off-shore oil rig and was coming to Revelstoke for a environmental seminar.
“After many well planned e-mails he finally got to the scam… he asked us to use our debit/credit card machine to transfer money to his so-called agent… through Western Union and take a fee for doing so.”
Egli said that request was the tip off that there was something hinky about the request from Webb. At no time did he meet anyone from the company, which offers concierge and home-watch services. All contact with him was via e-mail (the e-mail address he used was firstname.lastname@example.org).”
Egli said she spoke with the RCMP and they were unable to do anything about this scam. They directed me to call 1-888-495-8501 (that’s the number for Phonebusters — the anti-fraud hotline) which she promptly did. This scam has so far only been been reported to Phonebusters by three people in BC so it appears to be a relatively new con.
Local RCMP Cpl. Rod Wiebe said he was unaware of this scam until now.
“Anytime someone is asking you to transfer money while keeping a fee for yourself, should set off warning bells,” he said. “Visiting the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website at www.antifraudcentre.ca can keep you up to date on current scams.”
Egli thinks the person representing himself as “Donald Webb” was using a stolen credit card number. If the company had agreed to his request for them to transfer $9,000 to his “agent” through Western Union the charge would have been reversed as soon as the real credit card owner saw it on his monthly statement.
“Please be careful,” Egli said. “This man was very convincing. We were able to realize this was a scam as soon as the guy asked us to process the money and send it to his agent but there are people out there that may be financially devastated if they don’t know any better.”