February 15, 2018 7:05 pm
Updated: February 16, 2018 3:02 pm

Scam texts and emails received by Winnipeggers a modern twist on an old crime

WATCH: Manitoba Hydro is the latest company being used by scammers. The utility company said they've had almost 50 complaints this year alone. Global's Timm Bruch reports.


The Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) said on Thursday that if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Scam text messages are delivered to thousands of phones across the province every day. They claim to offer free money, a chance for a free trip or warn there is a problem with your tax return.

READ MORE: Winnipeg Police Service warning residents of kidnapping scam

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Manitoba Hydro said they’ve received almost 50 complaints this year alone from people getting texts from scammers posing as the company, oftentimes using the 204 area code.

“Almost every week there’s a different variation of it,” Hydro’s Bruce Owen said.

“All large companies are victims in this and used by scammers to lend credibility to [the scam],” Owen said.

Shaun Veldman of the WPS’ Financial Crimes Unit said there’s not a lot police can do to stop the messages: most of the texts and emails come from overseas criminals working large-scale operations, and technology has lead to a rise in their numbers.

RELATED: Mysterious missed calls on cellphones part of worldwide scam

“In the past you would have gotten a letter or a call, now you’re getting an email or text,” Veldman said. “From all of these thousands of texts going out, they’re going to victimize a few people and it makes it all worthwhile.”

Police warn residents that if the message is asking for any personal information — even something unassuming like a mother’s maiden name — chances are it could be a scam. They said to also remember to look closely at the URLs of linked webpages, and that, if it’s a message from a corporation like Manitoba Hydro, to ask yourself if you are expecting an email from the company.

Anyone with information about possible scams are asked to contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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