City police are cautioning the public against providing bank or identity information over the phone after multiple people were defrauded over $200,000 in recent weeks.
In late August, an 80-year-old woman was contacted by a man claiming to be an investigator with her financial institution, Edmonton police said in a news release Thursday. It was reported that the man advised the woman that there was suspicious activity involving her credit card and her social insurance number. She was told her involvement was critical to the bank’s investigation into similar frauds.
Police said the woman was initially told to send Sephora and Google Play gift cards and then instructed to send shoeboxes of cash through FedEx. It is believed the woman sent more than $47,000 to the suspect, of which $6,000 was recovered by FedEx and returned.
“These are merely several examples, the tip of the iceberg really, concerning multiple fraud investigations that have been reported to police over the last month,” said Det. Jason Lapointe with EPS’ economic crimes section in the news release.
“And just when we learn of one of them, there’s another one already making the rounds in Edmonton and communities around the world.”
He advises people to remember the acronym D.G.V.: Disengage from the person on the phone; go directly to the source (your bank, etc.); and verify whether the claim made by the person on the phone is true.
In another case, a 76-year-old man lost nearly $80,000 after a fraudulent transaction was done over the phone. A man claiming to be from a computer security company contacted the elderly man to inform him he was owed a $400 refund. The complainant was then asked for, and provided, online access to his bank account to deposit the alleged refund.
Then on Sept. 19, a 60-year-old woman was using her home computer when a “pop-up” appeared, instructing her to call Microsoft to deal with a supposed virus on her computer. The woman called the phone number and was then instructed to deposit $45,000 in Bitcoin to solve the issue.
Earlier that same week, police launched another investigation after a 41-year-old woman was conned out of $38,000. She was contacted by someone claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency and said the complainant owed $38,000. The woman was then instructed to deposit the money into a Bitcoin machine.
Anyone with information regarding fraud or deceptive telemarketing can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 and the Edmonton police.