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Fraud Prevention Month kicks off in Edmonton

For Immediate Release:01-Mar-2018 @ 7:24 AM
MRU #:18R025

Victims share stories: "If it can happen to me, it can happen to you"

The Edmonton Police Service (EPS) and its partners in government, law enforcement and business are kicking off Fraud Prevention Month with cautionary stories from local victims of frauds and scams, as well as advice on how to avoid these types of crimes.

Imagine receiving a phone call from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) informing you that you have been audited and owe almost $6,000, you received prior notification, and the deadline for payment is today. You are then informed if the payment is not made, you will be charged the next day by the RCMP and your assets will be frozen.

This is what happened to Bernie last year. Her instructions were clear:

  • The conversation was being recorded
  • It had to be confidential
  • The funds were to be deposited in electronic Bitcoin machines

Bernie visited seven separate Bitcoin ATM (BTMs) locations that night as per the direction of the informant on the phone.

"It was like a game; a crazy game," said Bernie. "Not all the machines worked. Coins were depleted. I just kept going from one spot to the next. I felt hypnotized."

It was at the seventh and final location that Bernie saw the sign on the BTM warning depositors of the CRA Bitcoin scam. The sign was her wake-up call.

Facing a loss of more than $3,000, Bernie wants to help other Edmontonians recognize the signs of fraud.

"My advice to others is to educate yourself. These people know how to profile. They're smart, confident and professional - they're great actors. They know how to isolate you, keep you mobile and keep talking to you so you don't have time to consider the red flags."

Bernie's experience was one of 111 CRA tax scams reported to EPS in the period of January 1, 2017 to February 26, 2018. Seventy-nine victims of the reported incidents were contracted by phone. A total of $311,736.21 was lost in Edmonton with this scam; $243,134.00 specifically in Bitcoins.

"As criminals fine-tune their skills, the number of fraud cases increases," said Det. Linda Herczeg with Economic Crimes. "They like to catch us when our guard is down and keep our minds engaged so we overlook the red flags. The first step to protecting ourselves is to verify the information we're given - ask questions."

Throughout Fraud Prevention Month, EPS and its partners will be highlighting common frauds such as cybercrimes, romance scams, mass marketing scams, identity theft, business/service scams and financial crimes.

For additional fraud and crime prevention tips, please visit www.edmontonpolice.ca/Fraud

The EPS reminds citizens that fraud prevention is ongoing - we need to recognize it, report it and stop it.

If you are a victim of a fraud, or have knowledge of an economic crime, please contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm.


Please contact Brittany Lewchuk at (780) 668-7205 for more information.

"Dedicated to Protect, Proud to Serve"