They are typically a variation on this theme:
(In Mandarin:) This is the consulate, we have an important document that needs to be picked up, it may affect your status in Canada, press a button to speak with a specialist.
Once the victim follows through with the prompt they are likely hit with what is called a parcel scam. The scammer tells the victim they have a parcel with their name on it that happens to be connected to a criminal case in China involving finances. A supposed police officer gets on the phone and instructs the victim to send money to help resolve the case.
“The concern, of course, is B.C. has a large Chinese population and while most people simply hang up when they get these calls, there are many Chinese immigrants who may follow through with the prompts,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “Almost everyone at BBB has received the calls, it seems pretty widespread. Like any other scam it’s a numbers game. The scammer is phone spoofing thousands of people and if a handful get duped then they’re making money.”
BBB has these tips to help limit robocalls:
- Don’t give out your number. Businesses may ask for your cell phone number so they can text new offers and information. This is not mandatory. If you don’t have to give it, then don’t.
- Don’t put your number into social media. Some platforms ask for it, but it’s not mandatory.
- Don’t answer your phone if you don’t recognize the number. Scammers use Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) software to spoof numbers so they look familiar; in fact, it may even be your number. If the call is legit and important, they’ll leave a message.
- Sign up for the Canadian Do Not Call Registry. While this can help prevent legit unwanted marketing, we at BBB are pretty sure that scammers don’t follow the rules. For more information go here.
- Anti-robocall software. This does exist but there is a cost involved, typically around two or three dollars a month. (Nomorobo, Hiya, Robokiller…to name a few)