Lethbridge residents should think twice before buying a gift card or opening a strange email. The Lethbridge Police Service issued a public advisory.
Gift card scams are among of those on the rise in Lethbridge, according to the Economic Crimes Unit (ECU).
Authorities have recently received around half-a-dozen reports of people falling victim to gift card fraud after buying a gift card from someone who may have been posing as a representative from a government agency, bank or other business.
Police said a recent example involved someone who took an online job, and was asked to purchase gift cards and forward them to another recipient. However, the reimbursement turned out to be fraudulent.
Residents have reported losses totaling around $500,000 in cash and $50,000 in cryptocurrency since the beginning of the year–all from different types of scams.
A further $200,000 in scams were attempted, but were unsuccessful after the victim realized they were being scammed or a financial institution stepped in.
LPS has been contacting businesses and major retailers to ensure they can help protect people from scams, while also making presentations in seniors homes on common types of scams.
Another type of scam on the rise involves getting remote access to an electronic device such as a computer, where personal and banking information may be stored.
Residents are reminded to not click on any links within emails from unfamiliar sender, and that the Canada Revenue Agency and other government agencies will not ask for payment with gift cards or cryptocurrency or ask for financial information.
Those who have been victimized and lost money are asked to contact the LPS complaint line at 403-328-4444, while suspected scams can be reported through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre online or at 1-888-495-8501.