Scammer targets family of missing Yarmouth County man, say RCMP

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The family of a missing Yarmouth County man has been targeted by an online scam, according to Nova Scotia RCMP.

A family member of Zachery Lefave, who was last spotted in Plymouth on New Year's Day, received an unsolicited text message on Jan. 12 saying that Lefave was still alive but would be killed if they didn't send $7,000 in gift cards.

The family immediately contacted police without sending any money.

After an investigation, police determined the text appeared to have came from various locations in North America and Africa, as the sender had been using a virtual private network.

RCMP spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Joyce told CBC that investigators are still tracking the source of the text, but they believe it came from a country that does not have a "strong bilateral relationship" with Canada. He said that will make the investigation "very, very challenging."

Police believe the sender obtained personal phone numbers from social media after family members had posted them online during the search for Lefave.

"The person responsible used technology to disguise their location and then preyed on a vulnerable family who are doing everything possible to find Zach," Sgt. Terry Faulkner of the Southwest Nova Major Crime Unit said in a news release Saturday.

The RCMP reminded Nova Scotians that there is a risk when sharing personal information online.

The search for Lefave has been suspended but Yarmouth RCMP is continuing to ask for the public's help in finding Lefave.

Lefave, who was turning 21 at the time he went missing, is white, five-foot-nine and 175 pounds with brown hair, brown facial hair and blue eyes. He was last seen wearing a hat, plaid shirt and shorts.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Yarmouth Rural RCMP at 902-742-9106. Anonymous tips can be shared by calling CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477.