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B.C. Lottery Corporation warns of 'predatory and sophisticated' online scams

The River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C. June 9, 2010. (CTV) The River Rock Casino in Richmond, B.C. June 9, 2010. (CTV)
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British Columbia's provincial gambling body is warning the public about a series of online scams that are allegedly tricking people into providing their financial information by mimicking advertisements from licensed local casinos.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation says the scammers are using social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram to offer would-be gamblers exclusive bonuses and promotions if they register their financial information with a fraudulent website or mobile app.

An advisory Monday from the BCLC says the advertisements are highly deceptive, using the names, logos and exterior images of legitimate B.C. casinos.

The lottery corporation says none of the advertisements or websites are associated with the BCLC or the province's casinos.

The only website permitted to host online gambling in B.C. is PlayNow.com, and the only official mobile apps are BCLC Lotto!, PlayNow Poker BC and PlayNow BC Sportsbook, the gaming corporation warns.

All of the provincially operated social media accounts are verified with a checkmark, the BCLC added.

"While BCLC and its casino partners are actively working to have posts removed, British Columbians should be cautious when it comes to these predatory and sophisticated scams," the advisory said.

"BCLC encourages individuals to be on alert when a website or app asks for personal or financial information. BCLC’s verified websites and apps will never ask for your social insurance number (SIN), banking information or credit card details online to claim a prize from a B.C. casino."

Gamblers should also note that any website or mobile app that asks users to pay fees or taxes on a prize is fraudulent, the lottery corporation said.

Anyone who is unsure whether a website, advertisement or app is legitimate is encouraged to contact the BCLC directly at 1-866-815-0222, or use the live chat function online at corporate.bclc.com or PlayNow.com.

Those who encounter suspected fraudulent activity online can report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501. Anyone who suspects they have been victimized by a scam should contact their local police.

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