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An employee of a retail business is being credited by Winnipeg Police with helping foil a fraud attempt, just days before the start of Fraud Prevention Month.
On Friday morning just before noon, two Winnipeg Police Foot Patrol officers were working the downtown area when they were stopped by the employee who worked in the area. She was with a female senior who was on her cell phone. The employee advised the officers that she was attempting to stop the woman from turning over Google Play card codes to a suspected phone scammer. The employee further advised that the victim had just purchased $1,000 in Google Play cards from the store.
One of the officers accessed the victim’s phone and determined that the scammer was still on the line. The officer told the suspect that he was a WPS officer, gave him his badge number and said that the fraud had been halted, to which the suspect is said to have replied: “I don’t care who you are; this transaction is between her and me. Put her back on the phone .” The suspect ultimately ended the call, police said.
It was learned that the victim had been told she would be arrested due to a tax matter. She had been directed to turn over banking information, PINs, to purchase $1,000 in Google Play cards all to avoid arrest and not tell anyone about the call.
Officers walked the victim to her bank, which was close by. The situation was explained to the assistant manager, who was able to freeze the victim’s accounts and change passwords. The assistant manager noted she was very familiar with the scam and deals with victims daily. The victim’s bank accounts were not compromised.
Finally, the retail store manager contacted Google Play, who refunded the victim’s purchase.
The Winnipeg Police Service reminds the public that no legitimate agency will contact you by phone and ask for payments in this manner or request banking information.
Additional resources can be found at https://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.
Throughout the month of March, the Winnipeg Police Financial Crimes Unit will be focusing on combating extortion scams – through investigation and enforcement as well as education and awareness.
In 2020, Manitobans lost over $4.4 million through mass market scams. This includes $1.9 million lost through extortion scams. Extortion scams were the most reported scams and they were the most profitable for fraudsters not only in Manitoba, but in all of Canada.
To help raise awareness, police prepared a video detailing what extortion scams are, the most common ones, and how Manitobans can protect themselves from falling victim to these scams.
Winnipeg Police will be taking part in a number of events to help educate citizens on how they can protect themselves from fraud. But unlike in years past, all of these events will be held virtually due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The month’s virtual events will be kicked off on Tuesday with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s Canada-Wide Fraud Prevention Month Launch from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. with information specific to Manitoba being presented at 1 p.m. Connect with the Anti-Fraud Centre’s social pages at: Twitter: @canantifraud ; and Facebook: @canantifraud . Similar events on protecting from scams and fraud will be held on Winnipeg Police Facebook page on March 10, 18 and 23.
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Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2021