Independent RV owners attempting to sell their vehicles in Alberta, Canada have been victimized by a scam, according to a report in the Edmonton Journal.
Albertans who have advertised an RV, usually for $50,000 or more, get a phone call from a man impersonating Robert Sylvestre, the chief of the Saskatchewan First Nation.
The scam artist says his tribe has to spend its whole budget because they are being audited the next day, and if they don’t spend it, the government will reduce their budget next year. Sometimes he offers more money than the seller is asking.
Then a different man claiming to be Sylvestre’s son calls to ask the seller to wire $250 or so to Saskatoon, to pay for gas, food and hotels until he can get to the site.
Albertan Larry Kyllo received two calls from the scam artist, one in the fall and one last week.
“He phoned me and told me he’s a chief and he’s got to get rid of some money,” explained Kyllo. “Then he says he’s going to phone his bank. He calls me back to say the deal is on. Then he says his call is interrupted, and it’s his son, who needs money.”
When Kyllo wouldn’t agree to wire money, the scam artist persisted.
“He tried his darndest. He said, ‘Well, don’t you have any credit cards?’ ” said Kyllo.
The real Chief Sylvestre said he has been inundated with calls from people who think he’s the scam artist. He said the calls started about a year ago, when the fraudster was only targeting people in Saskatchewan.
“I’m very frustrated,” said Sylvestre. “Sometimes I get three, four phone calls a day from people telling me where I can pick up their RV. I had to stop picking up my phone.”
Sylvestre said eventually the calls stopped. But about a month ago, they started again. This time, they were from Albertans.
Sylvestre doesn’t know who is using his name, but he thinks it’s someone who knows him.
Det. Mark Johnson from the Edmonton Police Service’s economic crimes unit said few people send money to scam artists. But Johnson said that even if fewer than 1% cooperate, scammers can make a lot of money.