The Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) is warning people about a financial scam that this time around is using fake VIHA cheques to trick victims to wire funds from their accounts.
It appears the scam so far has only targeted individuals in southern Ontario. VIHA is not aware of any BC or VIHA residents who have been targeted.
The scam has been around for some time and involves an organization offering individuals money to be a ‘mystery shopper.’ The potential victims are mailed information along with a cheque and are asked to wire money from their own bank account to another account with the promise they can keep the balance once they cash the cheque – which is larger than the amount they are asked to wire. The cheque is fraudulent, but by the time this is realized, the victim has already wired the cash funds.
While the scam is not new, the use of fake VIHA cheques is new. To an untrained eye, the VIHA cheques look real, although they are mailed from an Ontario address to another Ontario address. VIHA provides services on Vancouver Island and would have no reason to use Ontario addresses for its financial or other business.
VIHA has been contacted by a few Ontario residents questioning the correspondence and cheques, which is how the health authority became aware of the issue. Victoria Police have been made aware of this, but have not received any reports. The health authority has also notified police in Ontario and its financial institution.
Key to avoiding scams and fraud is awareness and education. There is extensive information available on line through the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre (www.phonebusters.com/english/home-eng.html).
The scam has been well publicized in the past. The following links provide additional information:
— Vancouver Island Health Authority