Winnipeg police officer confronts suspected phone scammer in the act

Winnipeg police say a retail worker and an officer worked together to prevent a senior from being scammed.
Winnipeg police say a retail worker and an officer worked together to prevent a senior from being scammed. Getty Images

A pair of Winnipeg police officers and a retail worker are being credited with preventing a senior citizen from being scammed out of $1,000 and banking information.

On Friday morning, the Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) says the retail worker told a pair of foot patrol officers that she was trying to stop an elderly woman from turning over $1,000 in Google Play cards she had just bought to a suspected phone scammer.

The older woman was nearby and gave the phone to one of the officers, who realized the suspect was still on the line.

Read more: Winnipeg grocery store owner says numerous customers have been victims of Bitcoin scams

The officer identified himself and told the person the fraud was going no further, to which the suspect allegedly replied:

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“I don’t care who you are; this transaction is between her and me. Put her back on the phone.”

The person hung up a short time later.

Police say the senior had been told to turn over banking information, PINs, and $1,000 in Google Play cards to avoid arrest over a bogus tax matter.

Read more: Winnipeg police warning of COVID-19-related frauds and scams

The officers and the victim went to her bank and were able to have her accounts frozen and passwords changed. None of her accounts are believed to be compromised, and Google Play refunded the purchase.

Fraud Prevention Month

The WPS says it will be focusing on combating extortion scams — through both enforcement and education — during March.

Manitobans lost over $4.4 million through mass market scams in 2020, according to the WPS, nearly half of which was through extortion.

The force is promoting an educational video on this type of scam which can be found here.

The WPS is also taking part in a series of virtual events happening throughout March:

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  • The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s Canada-Wide Fraud Prevention Month Launch. Happening March 2 from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. (Manitoba-specific information presented at 1:00 p.m.)
  • Facebook Live Event: Protect Yourself from Scams. Happening March 10 at 6:00 p.m.
  • Facebook Live Event: MoneySmart Manitoba’s Protecting Your Family from Fraud. Happening March 18 from noon to 1:00 p.m.
  • Facebook Live Event: Fighting Fraud: Advice for Individuals New to Canada. Happening March 23, beginning at 6:00 p.m.

Those who are or know a victim of an extortion scam, are encouraged to contact both the WPS and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to file a report.

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RCMP announce arrests in CRA scam – Feb 14, 2020

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