A Sicamous woman has been hassled by persistent and convincing telephone scammers in recent days.
On Nov. 21, Janet de Jong, a Sicamous resident in her eighties received a call from someone claiming to represent Medicare. De Jong was told very firmly and convincingly by the woman on the phone that she was in arrears on her payments by nearly $500 and that she would have trouble getting her prescriptions if she didn’t pay up – and soon.
De Jong’s suspicions were raised as were those of her grandson, who was at the house when the caller asked her to call back and arrange payment. She said the caller also asked for personal details such as her date of birth.
De Jong said she checked in with a friend of hers who is a financial services professional in Salmon Arm and he confirmed that the number of the call was from New Brunswick, based on its area code.
After receiving the call, de Jong went over to her next-door neighbour’s house and, shortly after arriving, her neighbour received a similar call.
“I wasn’t there five minutes when she got the call,” de Jong said.
When the time came to get her prescription refilled, de Jong encountered no problems and the pharmacist put a call in to Medicare and ensured her that they handle all matters related to payments by mail, not by phone.
De Jong said she has received scam phone calls before, including very aggressive ones from people claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency.
She said what set this one apart is how persuasive and genuine the person on the phone seemed, and how her neighbour was also contacted shortly after she was.
The calls continued for two days following the first one.
The day after the call came from the person claiming to be from Medicare, de Jong received another call saying she was behind on her payments for a computer; yet she doesn’t own one. She received a third call from people saying they were in the area and wanting to interview her in person, but, convinced that the call was fraudulent like the others, de Jong hung up.
De Jong received another call claiming to represent Medicare saying they would take the money she supposedly owed them out of her bank account if she did not reply. As with the others calls, de Jong hung up.
Sgt. Murray McNeil of the Sicamous RCMP said there have been no recent reports of similar telephone scams targeting other residents of the Sicamous area.