West Van seniors targeted in porn scam
Another rash of frauds is again targeting West Vancouver residents.
This time it's a letter in the home mailboxes of West Van seniors, accusing them of stealing internet porn.
It appears to be the third scam targeting West Van residents in two weeks. Though, while the other two fraud cases involved someone falsely claiming to represent a charity while soliciting money door-to-door, this latest case targets local seniors with extortion.
West Van police spokesman Cpl. Jag Johal said police have collected at least 14 of the letters from seniors in recent days and more seem to be pouring in every day.
Johal told The Outlook the letters threaten the receiver with a lawsuit for illegally downloading pornography online.
The letter writer says they will take legal action unless a settlement cheque of $3,000 is paid to Artisan International Canada Interest Compliance and Investigation. No such corporation exists, but the address the letter tells residents to send the money to is real: 205-1425 Marine Dr., West Vancouver, B.C., V7T 1B9.
The Ambleside address belongs to Accutype Business Services, a company specializing in creating "virtual" offices and addresses.
Accutype manager Christin Bux told The Outlook Friday that while the company shut down the fraudulent mailbox on Sept. 6, angry residents are still flooding into her office with the letters.
"They were filing in thinking it was me [sending the mail], so I canceled the guy immediately and told him that if any mail came for him it would be returned to sender," Bux said, adding that Accutype is co-operating with police.
In 22 years of business, Bux said the company has only had to deal with a "handful" of incidents like this.
Bux said her customers aren't required by law to provide much personal information or identification beyond a mail forwarding address, with most of them signing up online as this fraudster apparently had.
Luckily, she said, no mail had come in for the Artisan International box since it had been rented and she is happy that would-be victims of the scam have been bringing in their letters instead of cutting cheques.
"Often a lot of people are concerned that maybe their kids are into stuff," Bux said. "So luckily they were checking with us first."
Cpl. Johal told The Outlook that investigators believe the sender of the letters is a local resident. He noted that police weren't sure how the seniors were being selected and targeted, but added that in the past, fraudsters have successfully used the internet to gather the personal information of residents like their age and address.
Johal said police were unaware of anyone having given money to the scam either, but said often those who do can be too embarrassed to come forward.
West Van police urge anyone who has received one of the Artisan International letters or who knows who may be sending them to contact police at 604-925-7300 or call Crime Stoppers to remain anonymous at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).