Quebec police forces team up to share concerns over fraud

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Quebec police forces team up to share concerns over fraud
WATCH: Police forces in Quebec are alarmed about a sharp increase in the number of fraud cases in the province. There were more than 30,0000 reported cases of fraud in the province in 2023, a fraction of the actual number law enforcement authorities believe. Experts say fraudsters are operating on a much larger scale than most people realize. Global's Phil Carpenter reports. – Apr 17, 2024

Fraud of all sorts, especially online scams, is on the rise, keeping cyber experts like Terry Cutler busy — and worried.

“Obviously fraud is going to be on the rise because, especially around cyber crime, individuals are unaware of the risks,” he says.

On Wednesday, Quebec law enforcement chiefs released statistics showing that there were 37,000 reported cases of fraud in the province, an increase of 15 per cent in two years. According to the report, in the first three months of this year, Quebecers have lost $3 million in reported fraud.

“The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre is telling us that there is more than 80 or 90 per cent of those crimes that are not reported,” Association of Quebec Police Chiefs director-general Didier Deramond notes.

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He says it’s because people are too ashamed, or because companies don’t want to give the impression that they are not safe.

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According to Quebec police, while Montreal had the highest number of reported fraud cases last year at more than 10,000, the regions with the largest reported increases from 2022 to 2023 were Laval and the Mauricie at 20 per cent, central Quebec at 17.3 per cent and Montreal at 10.6 per cent.

Deramond believes the gaps in rate increase across the province suggest that the fraudsters are moving around, explaining that “they try to clean a region and when they’re done with it, they’re changing places.”

Jeff Horncastle from the the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre tells Global News the trends are similar across the country and the financial losses are continuing to rise — “$568 million in 2023, up from a little over $530 million in 2022, and looking back to 2021, $387 million.”

The Association of Police Chiefs says three of the biggest scams — credit and debit card fraud, online fraud and identity theft — are made more challenging with the misuse of artificial intelligence.

Cutler notes scamming is a trillion-dollar business with sophisticated organizations.

“It’s very difficult for law enforcement right now,” he points out, because they don’t have the trained staff to deal with it, and there are jurisdictional issues. “They have to work closely with governments and telecommunications companies.”

Police say they are working on training and collaborating more with other agencies. Authorities urge the public to report the crimes and get educated. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and Cutler’s company give free information about how people can protect themselves.


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