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Mass marketing scams

For Immediate Release: 25-Mar-2020 @ 7:00 AM
MRU #: 20R033

In 2019, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) received 377 reports of mass marketing frauds where the primary contact method was a phone call to either a cell phone or a landline with an overall loss of $3,925,847.76.

Unlike other frauds, mass marketing scams target a large population at once, in hopes of victimizing as many people as possible.

Last year, Lois Valentine was one of the masses who was contacted over the phone by a vishing fraudster. Lois was ill and resting at home when she received a phone call from someone who identified himself as an RBC employee. He was calling to tell Lois that her credit card had been compromised, and she owed $1100. In Lois’ foggy mind, she was convinced that this was a genuine compromise and provided her banking and credit card information. Then the caller began to tell her to purchase Google Play cards, totalling $900 to pay her outstanding balance. The caller tried to arrange a meeting at Kingsway Mall so she could supply the cards to him.

Thankfully, Lois chose to attend her bank before purchasing the Play cards. The RBC employees informed her that the phone call was a scam, and her accounts had never been compromised.

Since Lois avoided the $900 potential fraud, the fraudster called Lois 22 additional times. Investigations into the phone number discovered that the fraudster was spoofing a North York, Ontario man’s number. He advised that he was not involved in this scam, but unfortunately, he has been contacted 52 times about his number being used by fraudsters, which he reported to his local police service.

What makes this story stand out is that there was a local fraudster involved. We tend to attribute frauds with international scammers, but this one had someone who was willing to confront Lois in public to obtain the Play cards.

“All month we have been asking citizens to take that extra pause when they are unsure about a phone call, text or email, or social media request for personal or financial information,” said Detective Linda Herczeg with EPS’ Economic Crimes Section. “In that pause, you allow yourself to see the red flags. Trust your gut and question these suspicious requests.”

Verify these requests for personal and financial information by contacting the businesses directly. Don’t provide your information over the phone, and don’t click on a link sent by a suspicious or strange contact. Instead, hang up and find their contact details and call to confirm the message or phone call you received.

Please see our website for more mass marketing fraud prevention information.

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Please contact Landis Reichle at (780) 421-3508 for more information.

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