March marks Fraud Prevention Month for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), in partnership with the North Bay Police Service.
“Fraud prevention month has been going on since 2004,” said Jeff Thomson, an RCMP analyst at CAFC. “It was started by the fraud prevention forum as a way to educate Canadians and form partnerships with the private sector. Our primary goal is to make Canadians the most educated consumers worldwide, and to reduce fraud.”
“Our slogan this year is ‘recognize, reject, report,’” Thomson added. “Fraudsters use text messaging, email, social networking. If you’re not reporting, we don’t know it’s happening.”
“The reporting part is a really important piece for police officers,” North Bay Police Chief Scott Tod said. “The fact is then we are aware as to what is happening in our community and we can actually provide services back to victims of fraud in our community and prosecute criminals responsible.”
One struggle for local law enforcement and the CAFC is the way fraudsters try to dupe potential victims is always changing.
“It’s changed from telephone fraud to the online world,” Tod explained. “Certainly no one really is anonymous, we know that from many large investigations done by federal and provincial police services. We have the ability to break through the anonymous culture that is on the internet and identify those who are victimizing our community.”
“Recently we had a romance scam involving a local citizen,” Tod continued. “The citizen was asked to use cryptocurrency as a payment to support the person they felt emotionally attached to and they used cryptocurrency to transfer a large sum of money.”
In Canada, in 2019 extortion was the most reported at 10,278. There were 2,101 victims suffering a dollar loss of $9,233,115.11. Spear Phishing resulted in the highest amount of dollar loss at $21,404,827.08 with 830 reports and 445 victims.
Each week in March will see a different message by CAFC. Week one is telephone fraud, followed by email and text fraud. Week three’s message will be online fraud, while week four will be social network fraud. Finally, week five will be fraud initiated by mail or in person.