Edmonton police fraud probe helps recover $1.5M worth of PPE, industrial equipment

A file photo of an Edmonton police badge. Global News

An investigation by the Edmonton Police Service’s Economic Crimes Section has helped a number of Canadian and American companies recover over $1.5 million worth of personal protective equipment and industrial equipment that police allege was fraudulently ordered.

“The online scheme targeting PPE, industrial and electronic equipment companies in Canada, the United States and Australia, has seen the suspects impersonating various commercial companies, including Clean Harbors, a large North American environmental, energy and industrial service provider,” police said in a news release issued Thursday.

Police alleged the suspects would then contact suppliers using altered emails, the names of company executives and illegally obtained credit reference information to get shipments of equipment, “including the highly sought-after N95 masks.”

READ MORE: Edmonton police warning of coronavirus scams after 3 lose more than $17K

“The equipment was then shipped to warehouses across Canada and the United States by the suspects, who are believed to be operating from Nigeria and London (England),” police said.

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According to police, investigators believe the suspects would then arrange an online pickup from a courier company using “compromised courier accounts” and have the shipment delivered to England, “where it was then moved to companies with exporting connections to Nigeria.”

“Many companies around the world are dealing with various challenges right now, just trying to financially stay afloat during this pandemic,” said Det. Jason Lapointe. “Then they find themselves under attack by criminals from abroad that are attempting to fraudulently acquire various equipment, including PPE, destined to help those who are in desperate need of it.

Police did not say if any arrests have been made.

Watch below: Some Global News videos about PPE.

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