Erin's Journals

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Just a thought… The scars of others should teach us caution. [St. Jerome]

This is a journal that I’m going to ask you to share with anyone you know who might be vulnerable to a scam like this. It is something that happened to me, and I’d really like you to spread the word, if you would, please.

I got a message on my old FB site that I rarely ever go to. (If I could, I’d delete it, but it anchors my public page so I cannot.)

It was from someone saying they were Adriana Iontorno-Palermo, who allegedly works at the York Region School Board. If there IS such a person, she should know that her identity has been hijacked for this scam. I’m not shaming her because I think she’s been a victim here too. Please, if you know her, ask her to check her account.

This person – and I’m going to say “posing” as Adriana – wrote:

Hi Erin. I hope you’re staying safe and healthy.

I responded that I’m well, and that I don’t use that FB to message, but she can find me at Then she wrote back that she was well and feeling blessed (smiley emoji). Then in the next text asked:

Do you have knowledge of the federal government’s old age survivors compensation?

I answered sorry, no, I didn’t – thinking she was looking for information. But no, “Adriana” had some for me:

The program is a federal domestic assistance, in conjunction with the federal government is helping by giving out funds (not loan) that they require to carry out their life and helping people above the age of 50 years old.

Next text:

And I got my care cheque delivered to my door a few weeks ago. When they came to my house to deliver my package I saw your name on their website so I was wondering if you got the same type of cheque already.

I answered that I had not and that it was strange I’d be on their website; however there are other Erin Davises out there, sooooo….

Her next text:

Since I got mine a few weeks ago and I did see your name on the list also. (Note the grammatical errors; I get plenty of correspondences with them and don’t judge or care, but it’s a hallmark of scams.) That’s why I decided to check with you and see if you got yours also. But I think you need to check it out. Should i help you with the contact information now?

So I told her if she had a link that might be helpful, or she could email me through my public email address. Here’s her response:

Alright. You can get in touch with them at this number (819) 801- 6084. Text them that you heard about the program and want to get yours also. They will put you through on all the process.

Wow, so helpful, right? This person, with whom I allegedly share two friends, sent me everything I needed to get a magical cheque to my door, simply for being over 50.

In these days of cheques being sent to people in need during COVID shutdowns, this is a SCAM. How do I know? I listened to my gut and it just felt like one. So I did the easiest thing ever: I Googled the phone number and, sure enough, this came up from Haddon Financial, posted August 6. You’re not seeing things; a lot of this is going to look VERY familiar to the texts I got. But there’s also some solid advice in here:

I got a FB message from a friend this morning asking me if I have knowledge about the Federal Government’s Old Age Survivor benefits. I said yes and then was asked to share what I knew.

That led to the following exchange:

THEM: The program is a Federal Domestic Assistance, in conjunction with Federal Government is helping by giving out Funds (not loan) that they require to carry out their life and helping people above the age of 50 years old.

And I got my care cheque delivered to my door step a few weeks ago. When they came to my house to deliver my package I saw your name on their website so I was wondering if you got the same type of cheque already?

ME: The federal govt doesn’t deliver chqs personally and they would never have a person’s name on their website. The federal domestic assistance program has nothing to do with any survivor benefits.

THEM: Since I got mine already and I saw your name on there website also that’s why I thought I should check with you since I got mine already. I think you need to check it out.

ME: What is the website?

THEM: Alright you can reach the agent in charge number at- the Agent name is Mr Joseph (819) 801-6084. you can text him now that you heard about the program and would like to claim yours also, he will put you through on everything.

Let me be very clear here – this is not a real thing. The Federal Domestic Assistance program exists but it’s got nothing to do with survivor benefits and the federal government, CRA, Old Age Security, Canada Pension, Service Canada would NEVER do any of the following:
1. solicit you in the way to apply for benefits
2. suggest that you text them – good grief most govt agencies won’t even accept an email – has to be hard copy mailed, in person delivered or fax. 
3. have the name of an individual on their website – certainly not someone as small as me

I have reported this to the fraud squad so they can add it to their list of ongoing nonsense that is out there. Make sure you speak with your parents and other people in your life who may be vulnerable, in need of money (benefits) or who may be a target of this kind of thing. If you get a message from a friend that looks like this let your friend know they have been hacked. Do not forward it to anyone else and for goodness sakes, don’t call the number or give anyone your personal information! 

Safety is not just about wearing a mask.

And that, my friend, is how these scams work – and how careful we have to be about whom we text for information. A simple Google search can often be the best thing you do if that little voice inside you says “really?” and you don’t have to be an MIT grad to figure it all out.

I hope you found this as eye-opening as I did. Have a gentle weekend and I’ll return here Monday. Please do share this and be careful, won’t you?

Rob WhiteheadThursday, September 17, 2020