Fraudsters posing as police officers scam woman out of more than $70K

EDMONTON — Red Deer RCMP have issued a warning about fraudsters posing as Mounties after a woman was allegedly scammed out of more than $70,000.

The victim reported the crime to police earlier in November. According to the victim, two people posing as constables contacted her with a story about illegal activity with her bank accounts.

Over the course of three days and multiple phone calls, the woman was convinced to transfer a large amount of money to the callers through bitcoin.

“With this case, the scheme was very sophisticated. The fraudsters used a number of deceptive tactics to reassure the victim they were police officers,” says Const. Andrew Devine, Red Deer RCMP. “They had manipulated their phone to appear as if the call was coming from the detachment. Although she had doubts, they had a number of tricks to reassure her.”

“If you’re a victim of fraud, you need to come forward. Often people are embarrassed, but your story can help prevent others from being targeted, and potentially help us apprehend the suspects.”

Police have provided the following tips to protect people from fraud: 

  • The RCMP does not demand immediate payment, including money transfers, over the phone.
  • The RCMP does not threaten arrest or deportation for non-payment.
  • Though Bitcoin has legitimate uses, it is often used in fraudulent activity, as it is a difficult-to-track currency. The RCMP, CRA and other government agencies will not request payment in Bitcoin or gift cards.
  • Verify unusual email or phone requests. Hang up and call the agency directly, confirming the caller’s identity and reason they called.
  • If possible, go to the agency or organization’s physical location and speak to someone in person.
  • Be wary about providing any personal information by phone, email or text.
  • Don’t be intimidated by high-pressure sales tactics.
  • If something feels off, trust your gut.

So far in 2020, Canadians have reported about 20,000 cases of fraud, but it is estimated that only five per cent of victims will report their experience. In addition to reporting fraud to the police, you are also encouraged to report the incident to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or online.

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