According to a warning from the Canada Border Services Agency, Canadian seniors appear to have been disproportionately targeted by drug trafficking networks to act as drug mules. Awareness is the best defense, so here is some information on how the scam works from the Canada Border Services Agency.
How does it start?
The scam can start in several ways. The scammers will use phishing emails, websites, mail and phone calls to initiate the scam. Seniors may receive unsolicited emails or letters offering money making opportunities or romantic relationships. The scammer will invest a lot of time developing a relationship with the senior, gaining their trust using various grooming techniques.
Travelling to receive promised financial rewards
Traffickers may ask the victim to travel to destinations like Africa, South America or Asia to receive the money. They ask victims to take seemingly harmless items on their travels for people in the country or on the way home to Canada.
Seniors risk detention and arrest if they are caught with the drugs. The drugs are stowed in false sides of luggage, clothing, chocolates, candies, canned goods, boxes of tea, picture frames and toiletries. Some of these countries may have severe penalties for drug smuggling, including life in prison or even death – whether the individual is aware they are carrying narcotics or not.
Traffickers may use a “two-step” process on their victims. The traffickers compromise the victim with fraud and offer a quick fix (involving travel) to recoup the lost money in response.
What to do if you or someone you know have become a victim
Report the incident to your local law enforcement (police or RCMP) and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, toll-free at 1-888-495-8501 or through the Fraud Reporting System (FRS). You can also contact the Border Watch Line at 1-888-502-9060.
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About Consumer Protection BC
We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.