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Realistic email scam snares local woman

Cops and banking officials are warning the public to be cautious after a local couple was scammed of hundreds of dollars in a world-wide computer phishing scam.

The rip-off happened last Monday when Duncanite Judy MacLeod opened an email that seemed to be from her bank.

“It looked so real, just like the bank page I’m on every five minutes,” the 61-year-old teacher said.

“It said it was time for me to upgrade my online bank account,” said MacLeod, who does “everything” online.

While the email didn’t ask for the victim’s password, it did ask certain other security questions and that was all the crooks needed to bilk the lady and her hubby out of nearly $1,000.

“People know me and know I’m not a dummy,” she said.

“But this goes to show it could happen to anybody.”

Phishing is a fraud designed to trick individuals into disclosing confidential and financial information for the purpose of identity theft.

The crooks send out hundreds, sometimes millions, of similar emails looking for trusting victims.

In MacLeod’s case, she was unaware she’d been bilked until the bank’s fraud squad contacted her the next day.

“It made me physically ill and apparently the people who did this did an email transfer to an unidentifiable account,” MacLeod said.

“The investigators told me they could be from Africa, Asia or the middle-east.”

John Groves is a spokesman for RBC and said this latest scam is a new one on him.

“This is the first I’ve heard of this phishing email using this bank,” he said.

“But I can tell you the RBC or any financial institution would never send out an email asking for privacy information, such as account numbers or passcodes, from its clients.”

Groves said the best thing to do if you get such an email is to immediately delete it.

“Don’t even open it,” he said.

Banks take the scams very seriously and have a unit devoted to nabbing the con artists, Groves said.

“We work in conjunction with law enforcement to shut down phishing sites and prosecute those responsible.”

The good news for the Duncan victims is they may well get their money back.

“We work these case by case to see if we can make them not liable for their loss,” Groves said.

If you believe you’ve been scammed, call police at 748-5522.

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