Scammers steal about $600,000 from four Lambton residents

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Heather Wright/The Independent

Scammers have swiped $600,000 from four people in Lambton County over the past month.

Lambton OPP are investigating “multiple reports of fraud in the county with a combined total of roughly $600,000,” said Const. Jamie Bydeley in a news release Monday.

OPP say the fraudsters will often call or email claiming to be an official business or agency.

They will demand money or gift cards to cover taxes or fees for items that you did not order. One claimed to have a suitcase full of money which was being held for the victim at customs which needed to be claimed.

Police say the people on the other end of the phone often say it is urgent to get the issue resolved, sometimes saying they will issue an arrest warrant if you don’t turn over cash immediately.

Bydeley says at this time of year, fraudsters are more likely to engage in “sympathetic frauds” where they pose as a loved one in with a dilemma, like a car which has broken down out of town or an arrest where they need cash for bail money.

The OPP says you should “be leery regarding fees and taxes on items that you did not order – ask where the package is coming from and check your records to confirm if you placed an order matching the description.”

Ask for identification of the people on the phone and then call the agency they claim to represent before sending any cash.

The OPP is urging families to talk to the elderly in their lives since they’re often the target of these scams. Let them know they can call you if they’re approached.

And if you are approached and you’re just not sure, call a trusted family member, friend, your bank or even the police before sending any money.

“At the end of the day, if it seems too-good-to-be-true, it probably is,” says Bydeley.