Scams are all over the place and sometimes they are so convincing that people fall for them. However, you don't expect to see a government body falling for one of those phishing scams but that's just what happened. The Royal Canadian Mint fell for a scam that could've ended up with money lost and an employee being impersonated by scammers.

The Mint, which produces all of Canada's coins that are in circulation, was involved in a phishing scam back in February that saw a scammer pretending to be a former Mint employee.

This type of fraud, called spear-phishing, is when scammers carefully collect information on a person so that they can impersonate that person.

While talking with an employee at the coin agency, the scammer asked for a change to a real former employee's bank account information for payroll purposes.

After some back and forth, the banking information was changed and the scammer was given a pay stub. 

Thankfully, the bank rejected the payroll deposit, the money was given back to the Mint and the actual former employee didn't lose anything.

"It's regrettable that there was a privacy breach," said Alex Reeves, senior manager of public affairs for the Mint, to CBC. "We take this kind of thing very seriously and you can't let down your guard when it comes to preventing that sort of thing."

The pay stub that was given to the scammer by the Mint included the former employee's address, employee number, payroll information which included annual salary, and the last four digits of their bank account number.

After this phishing incident, it was found that the former employee was a victim of identity theft and scammers were using their credit card.

There are so many scams out there, like a phone scam in which people pretend to be official government employees and threaten legal action if you don't give them money, and the calls are spoofed so it actually looks like a government phone number is calling you.

Some scam calls even connect you to what appears to be local police

Jeff Thomson, a senior RCMP intelligence analyst with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, told the CBC that there is a rise in payroll spoofing scams like the one the Mint fell for.

"Oftentimes it can result in significant losses. It typically falls in our top two in terms of dollar loss in the amount of money that the victims can lose," he said.

To guard against identity theft and scams, the government of Canada is advising Canadians to never provide personal information through the internet or by email, to be careful before clicking on links in emails, and to never use just the call display information to confirm the identity of someone who is calling you.

"Phishing and scams like that are a concern facing organizations like ours on a regular basis. We have to be vigilant," said Reeves.

Even though nothing bad ended up happening in the Mint's case, it's a good reminder that nobody is immune to being scammed.


There are stories everywhere. If you spot a newsworthy event in your city, send us a message, photo, or video @NarcityCanada on Twitter and Instagram.


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