In 2019, the Edmonton Police Service received reports of online scams with an overall loss of $5,690,629.10. Compared to 2018, with 360 incidents reported with an overall loss of $1,214,599.82.
279 Edmontonians lost $723,500.69 last year to online merchandise and ticket frauds. Local Oilers fan, Keith, lost over $600 to an online ticket scam last year. This is his story:
Keith wanted to find tickets for an upcoming Oilers game in April 2019. It was the final home game - a perfect birthday gift for his wife. After an unsuccessful search, his wife posted a wanted ad on Kijiji. A week went by and a Ticketmaster broker reached out. They talked over the phone and agreed on a set of tickets for the game they wanted. The broker said he only used Coincurve as a mediator for these transactions, because with e-transfer, you just don’t know if the other party will complete their end of the bargain if you send yours first. Keith and his wife did their research on this ‘mediator’ company and it all did seem like a legitimate and fair system for both parties. Keith sent the money, but his bank stopped the transaction. “I told him that if my bank’s not comfortable with this, then I’m not either,” Keith said the broker understood his concern and since there was enough trust built between them, he would agree to an e-transfer; they just had to send it to the broker’s wife’s email.
Keith noticed the money wasn’t accepted and asked if there was a problem. But the broker’s wife was a nurse on shiftwork, so she simply didn’t accept it yet. Soon after, Keith was told that the broker’s wife’s bank had cancelled the e-transfer, so Keith received his money back, and with the trust that had been built between buyer and seller, he agreed to send Bitcoin. Finally, this payment method went through and the broker said they’d have their tickets in just a few minutes.
In a few minutes, Keith and his wife had no tickets and their calls were being blocked. Instantly, they knew they had been scammed. With one last effort, Keith contacted the scammer’s wife, in case she didn’t know what her husband had done. In a twist of its own, the “wife” called Keith and revealed that she too had been scammed by this “broker” and was being extorted by him.
“He talked to us on the phone, we had his phone number… he even gave our money back the first time,” Keith explained. “He really let us trust him.”
Here is a list of frauds/scams that were committed through online initial contact in 2019:
- Account frauds, posing as Amazon, Bell/Rogers, general cell phone company, Fido, Freedom Mobile, Koodoo, PayPal, Shaw, TELUS
- Account scam – Freedom Mobile
- Account takeover scams, posing as Amazon, Bell, EPCOR, GoodLife Fitness
- Bank fraud – Account compromise, account takeover, cheque fraud, credit card fraud, fraudulent load, money exchange scam, open a fraudulent account
- Business Fraud
- Business fraud, Compromise scam (boss email)
- Buy/Sell Scam
- Canada Revenue Agency
- Charity/Fundraising Scams/Grants
- Chinese Embassy/Consulate Scam
- Computer Antivirus/Anti-Malware Scam
- Computer Malware (Ransomware/Virus) Scam
- Computer Repairs - Remote Desktop Scam
- Contract/Contractor Fraud
- Email Compromise Scam
- Employment Scam
- ETS Ticket Fraud
- Gift Card / Loyalty Card Fraud
- Identity Theft/Fraud
- Immigration Scam
- Inheritance Scam
- Insurance Fraud
- Investment Scam
- Loan scams – Including Advance Fee, Bad Credit, Debt Consolidation
- Fraudulent Loans
- Lottery Scam
- Lottery Scam - Facebook
- Phone Ported/SIM Card Scam
- Police Officer Impersonation Scam
- Prize Scam
- Relationship Scams – including Escort, Family/Cousin, Friendship, Romance Scam
- Relationship - Romance/Sextortion
- Relationship - Sugar Daddy
- Rental Property Scam
- Service Canada/SIN Card Scam
- Services Scam
- Social Media – including Facebook, Instagram, Mortgage fraud, Sextortion, Snapchat Scam
- Vehicle Purchase Fraud
- Website - Cloned Websites of Amazon, Apple, GST Registration, iTunes, Norton Antivirus, Swoop Airlines, Travel Agency
- Website - Fraudulent Website
- Website - Fraudulent GoFundMe Page
Email compromise/hacking is the first step for fraudsters to steal your identity and your money. It is important to keep in mind that not all emails are from the sender indicated in the address bar. Many times, that information is ‘spoofed’ or written over to hide who the actual sender is. Some things to consider when you are looking through your emails:
Delete all messages from senders that you do not know. If you have a need to read the message, do not click on any links or attachments as they can contain malware or a key logger, which are used to get information off your computer.
If you get mail from someone you know but the content doesn’t make sense or is not a message they would send you, call them to confirm if they sent it; don’t click on any of the attachments or hyperlinks until you confirm that the message was sent by the person shown.
Check the rules and alerts in your email account settings to ensure that no one has changed the settings or added a forwarding rule to send your emails to someone you don’t know.
If you've been a victim call the Edmonton Police Service immediately at 780-423-4567 or #377 from your mobile phone. If you're a victim of fraud, do not be afraid to come forward. You are not alone. We are here to help you.
If you did send money or share financial information, report it to the financial institution used e.g. your bank, Western Union, MoneyGram, Equifax and TransUnion.
Gather all information pertaining to the situation, including the scammer’s profile name, how you made contact, social media screenshots, emails, etc. and contact your local police.
File a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre -1-888-495-8501.
Notify the buy/sell, dating website or social media site where you met the scammer. Scammers usually have more than one account.
Be proactive; tell family, friends, coworkers and neighbours about your experience to warn them about online scams.