marks the 13th Anniversary of Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. Fraud Prevention Month is a month-long crime
prevention initiative aimed and educating and information consumers and the
community on how to recognize, report and stop fraud. This week's focus is on cyber crime.
Since 2011 reports of romance scams are on the rise. Romance scams can be devastating and in some cases have led to suicide after the victim has lost large sums of money, sometimes their entire life savings, but has also been emotionally devastated as well. In most romance scam the culprit will meet individuals on an online dating platform and will enter into a relationship with the victim without ever physically seeing them. Often the culprit will set up a time to visit but claim they do not have the money to travel and will request that the victim send them money for to cover the cost, when in fact they have no intention of ever coming. In some cases, the fraudsters will come up with a scenario where a family member is ill and they need money for medical costs or claim they need help to bring a friend or family member over from another country.
Although dating sites have become a popular place to meet new people, it is important to remember that in an online world it is very easy for individuals to claim to be someone other than who they really are. Never send money to someone else you can verify their true identity and you have met them in person.
With our reliance on internet related technology, fraudsters have become very tech savvy and are able to hack into many different type of accounts, from email to online gaming accounts. Once your account is hacked, the fraudster are able to obtain a lot of personal information which can lead to identity theft and misuse of your credit card and banking information. In some cases, the culprits have been reportedly been able to take over an email account and through that account have been able to contact a financial institution and complete email money transfers. When this occurs they will often withdraw the victim’s entire savings and deposit them into another account, often a foreign bank which cannot be traced.
The best way to protect yourself from most of these cybercrimes is to limit your online money transactions. Always ensure you are using a secure site when completing money transactions and only used reputable sites for purchasing items online. It is important to know that websites such as E-Bay or Kijiji employ a “buyer beware rule” and you are often taking a risk when purchasing items.
Cst. Josh Argue
Medicine Hat Police Service
Community Safety Unit