Calgary police warn of extortion scams at Fraud Prevention Month launch

In this file photo, a person searches the internet for sales. AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File

Calgary police launched Fraud Prevention Month on Sunday with the goal of making people more aware of common scams.

More than a dozen agencies gathered at the Central Library for Sunday’s event, where information was delivered on how to avoid being a victim in everything from money laundering to romance scams.

“We’re hoping everyone that comes today can take away something new, something different, some piece of information that will help them in the event that a scammer tries to get some information from them or they try to get some information to be able to take their finances,” Calgary Police Service Supt. Ryan Jepson said.

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Calgary police said they received about 5,500 reports of fraud in 2019, down slightly from 2018 when they received 5,600 reports. But police said only approximately five per cent of cases are reported.

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“Scammers will change the format of it ever so slightly, so recording is always important,” Jepson said.

“The authorities and all of our partners here today can understand what those slight variations are so that we can make the public aware of it.”

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Jepson said one of the most common current schemes revolves around attempting to extort a potential victim.

“You get someone phoning your telephone and saying that you have a problem with your social insurance number and that you need to come in or you’re going to get arrested,” he explained.

“We know that’s completely false. The government of Canada, the police would never make a phone call to you that you’re going to get arrested.”

READ MORE: Police warn Calgarians about increase in cellphone thefts

In February, Calgary police also warned about an increase in cellphone thefts and selling them online, with thieves targeting both individuals and stores and potential buyers need to be careful.

“Especially with the release of new cellphones in the fall, we’re seeing a lot of those new ones coming out,” Staff Sgt. Mark England said.

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“We’re also coming out of the Christmas season and people have received new electronic devices and are trying to sell old ones.”

According to Statistics Canada, police-reported fraud increased by 13 per cent in 2018 from the previous year across the country.

Calgary police are holding events throughout March, focusing on cyber crime, identity theft, business fraud and phone scams.

WATCH BELOW: Calgary police laid fraud charges against two men

Click to play video: 'Calgary police allege over $800K involved in local vehicle fraud scheme' Calgary police allege over $800K involved in local vehicle fraud scheme
Calgary police allege over $800K involved in local vehicle fraud scheme – Aug 22, 2019

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