Sidney/North Saanich RCMP says its detachment has seen a 73 per cent increase in money lost to scams between 2020 and 2021.
The total number of scams between the same time period increased by 48 per cent.
In a presentation to council, Staff-Sgt. Wayne Conley noted the detachment is currently undergoing a process to identify policing priorities for 2022, and said scam awareness and prevention is one priority he is suggesting.
“In 2021, the number of local victims of a fraud scam increased from 33 to 49,” Conley said, noting the amount of reported money lost in scams rose from $384,382 in 2020 to $664,021 last year. “I should point out that is reported losses that have been brought to the attention of police and we know there are many that have not been reported.”
“Many seniors in our community have been impacted by an ever-changing scourge of online and phone-initiated scams.”
Conley said the RCMP will be launching scam awareness initiatives in March for National Fraud Prevention Month.
“We plan to launch a local fraud awareness campaign. The efforts will be to raise awareness of this issue, and steps for residents to take to prevent from becoming a fraud scam victim,” Conley said.
The report notes that the Google Play scam is the most common scam in the area. This is where a scammer contacts using a similar email address to a colleague, friend or loved one and asks the victim to purchase Google Play cards with the promise to pay the person back.
Investment scams saw the highest increase in monetary loss, where there was one scam reported to police where the victim lost $150,000.
Computer access, e-transfer scams, extortion, and romance scams were the only types of scams that decreased in frequency in 2021.
The most common method of contact in 2021 was online with 30 reports of this method, followed by the phone with 16 reports.
The RCMP says the average age of the victims is 61.