Police issue warning after Edmontonians scammed for hundreds of thousands of dollars

An 80-year-old woman who was taken for more than $50,000 and a 76-year-old man who lost close to $80,000 are among the latest Edmonton victims of telephone scams.

Police are issuing a warning after multiple fraud investigations and losses close to $300,000 in recent weeks.

“The Edmonton Police Service is cautioning citizens against providing bank or identity information to anyone over the telephone,” police said Thursday in a news release.

In late August, the 80-year-old woman was contacted by a man claiming to be an investigator with her financial institution. He said there was suspicious activity involving her credit card and Social Insurance Number.

The victim was instructed to send gift cards and then shoe boxes full of cash. The senior is believed to have couriered more than $40,000 to the suspect.

The 76-year-old man was contacted by someone claiming to be with a computer security company and was told he was owed a $400 refund, police said. The victim provided online access to his bank account thinking the refund would be deposited. Instead the suspect stole nearly $80,000.

“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 the EPS economic crimes section.

“And just when we learn of one scheme, there’s another one already making the rounds.”

Senior citizens aren’t the only targets.

On Sept. 19, a 60-year-old woman responded to a pop-up on her computer instructing her to call Microsoft about a virus on her PC. She deposited $45,000 in Bitcoin in an attempt to resolve the issue.

That same week, a 41-year-old woman also lost nearly $40,000 in Bitcoin after being contacted by someone claiming to be with the Canada Revenue Agency who told her she owed money.

“It’s heartbreaking for investigators to see anyone victimized by fraud, especially seniors, who are already on fixed incomes,” said Lapointe. “They often lose their life savings, and in many cases their money is not recovered.”

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