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FPM Week 3 – Cyber Crimes

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada. Throughout the month the MHPS Community Safety Unit will be sharing tips on how to recognize, reject and report common frauds and scams. This week’s focus is on cybercrimes and online scams.

Cybercrime makes up a large component of all frauds and scams reported each year and can include any type of fraud or scam that is committed over the Internet. This can include romance, online investment, marketplace, employment, loan, ticket sale, or phishing scams.

With our increased reliance on Internet-related technology, especially during the pandemic, fraudsters are constantly finding new ways to scam trusting individuals. Police have observed an increase in “data breach” information use by criminals where they are able to obtain personal information which can lead to identity theft and misuse of credit card and banking information. These “data breaches” can unfortunately occur to any business who stores customer information electronically, including loan companies, online gaming systems and online sales/delivery services. If you receive notification from a trusted source, such as your bank or telecommunications service provider, advising that you may have been subject to a “data breach”, it is suggested that you immediately change all passwords and ensure that they are strong passwords (using different characters, numbers, and letters in no particular sequence). As a general safeguard, it is always good to cycle or change your passwords multiple times a year.

Each year, especially around tax return time, the number of complaints received from people reporting a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) scam will increase.

In most cases, the target will receive a call that will be displayed as a local phone number. Upon answering the call, the target will hear an automated message where the caller will identify themselves as being from the CRA. The automated voice will accuse the person of owing money and will also make threats to have the person arrested and charged. The automated recording will then direct the person to “press 1 to speak to an agent”. If the person presses 1, a person representing themselves as an agent of the CRA will begin asking questions that will ultimately lead to the scammer attempting to obtain personal information such as their SIN or credit card information. They may also request the person to purchase iTunes/Google Play gift cards or other types of gift cards to pay off their debt and instruct them to call back with the card codes. The cards will then be used by the scammer to sell on the black market.

The MHPS suggests that anyone receiving one of these automated calls, immediately hang-up. The CRA DOES NOT use automated calling systems. They already have your Social Insurance Number on file. They will NEVER ask for payment in the form of gift cards.

Sometimes, this scam will vary slightly and the caller will identify themselves as a police officers and advise the victim that their SIN has been compromised and request that the victim confirm their number over the phone.

Another variation is when someone gets a call from the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) advising that a parcel was seized at the border and a warrant was issued for your arrest. This is a scam in hopes that the person receiving the call wants to resolve the issue.

To protect against these common frauds, it is important to remain vigilant and NEVER provide personal or financial information over the phone. Likewise, never comply with an unsolicited phone caller who demands payment in gift cards. No legitimate business will do this.

Always remember:

  • The CRA will never call and threaten to have you arrested for not paying your taxes or ask for payment in the form of gift cards or prepaid credit cards.
  • The CBSA will not notify you of seized parcels and warrants for your arrests through an automated phone call.
  • If you are contacted in any of these ways, always confirm with the actual business directly. Look up the phone number online and do not use the call back number that the caller has provided. Do not trust your call display. It may say Police or ABC but in reality, it is a scammer.

If your workplace sells gift cards, you can also help by being on the lookout for potential victims and inform them about this scam. Victims may seem stressed and agitated as they are purchasing a large amount of gift cards. It is recommended that clerks ask customer what the purchase is for and suggest they contact police before they make the purchase if the circumstances seem suspicious.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of a similar scam and has lost money due to a fraud contact the MHPS at 403-529-8481 to report.

Due to the extremely high volume of fraudulent call attempts, if you have received a fraudulent call but are not a victim (meaning you have not shared your personal information, bank information, and have not lost money) then there is no need to report or contact police.

To keep yourself in the loop about Fraud Prevention Month activities occurring provincially, follow the hashtag #FPM2022 on social media or visit the Alberta Community Crime Prevention Association website at https://www.albertacrimeprevention.com/fraud-prevention-month/#FPM2022

For more information about frauds and scams visit the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at http://www.antifraudcentre-centreantifraude.ca/index-eng.htm.

Media Contact:

Sgt Adam Gregory
Medicine Hat Police Service
Community Support Unit
Ph: 403-529-8451

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Male Charged with Robbery

On March 13, 2022, at approximately 8:00 PM members of the Medicine Hat Police Service were called to a residence in Northwest Crescent Heights following a report of an utter threats complaint.  Additional patrol officers attended to the area and began increased patrols in the vicinity of the residence looking for a male.

While patrolling the area an officer observed a robbery in progress.  To avoid escalating the volatile situation, patrol officers remained out of sight but prepared to respond if required, until the male exited the liquor store. Once outside the store the male was confronted by police and safely taken into custody.  The male was found to be in possession of the stolen cash from the liquor store and was also in possession of a hunting knife.

The 21-year-old male who cannot be identified at this time remains in custody and is currently awaiting a judicial interim release hearing, facing charges of: Robbery, Disguise with Intent, Possess Weapon Dangerous to the Public, and Uttering Threats.

The clerk at the store did not receive any physical injuries because of this event but was offered support from the MHPS Victim Services Unit.

Media Contact:

S/Sgt Ryan Thorburn
Patrol Section
Medicine Hat Police Service
Ph; 403-529-8461

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Structure Fire

The Medicine Hat Police along with other emergency personnel are currently on the scene of a structure fire in the 200 block of Ross Glen Drive SE.  Please avoid the area if possible

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Motor Vehicle Collision

On the morning of March 13th at approximately 12:30 am members of the Medicine Hat Police Service along with other emergency personnel attended to the 500 block of Maple Avenue Southeast for a report of a motor vehicle collision.  The investigation uncovered that a single vehicle travelling northbound at a high rate of speed lost control, left the roadway and struck three residential homes.  As a result, a Medicine Hat male has been charged with Dangerous Operation of a Motor Vehicle.  No serious injuries were sustained and the total estimated damages are about $100,000.

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International Women’s Day

Today is International Women’s Day, a day that marks a call for a gender equal world - free of bias, stereotypes, and discrimination and one that is diverse, equitable, inclusive where differences are valued and celebrated. The men and women of the Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) stand together, in solidarity with others around the world, with a commitment to #BreakTheBias.

We celebrate the women who currently serve our community and thank them for their strong leadership as well as pay tribute to the women who have previously served for their efforts in breaking down barriers and challenging stereotypes. Today, 16 of the 111 police officers in Medicine Hat are women and they are strong contributors to the community and the organization. The MHPS hopes to encourage others to follow in their footsteps and consider policing as a career. While women have always been an essential part of the workforce from the earliest days of the MHPS, they serve in increasingly diverse roles and offer their professional expertise in areas such as management, municipal bylaw enforcement, communications, information technology, data analysis, victim services and more.

This day also marks a call to action to accelerate women's equality and to support this goal the MHPS pledges to celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women in our community. Over the next year, starting on April 8, 2022, we will select one local woman per month to highlight and celebrate. Anyone who wishes to nominate a strong role model in our community can do so by submitting suggestions by email to mhps@mhps.ca for consideration. The nominations will be reviewed by a committee comprised of women who serve with the MHPS and each month they will select and arrange meet with the winner to celebrate her accomplishments.

The women's struggle for equality belongs to no single person or to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights. We hope that on International Women's Day you will join us to consider what you can do to make a positive difference for women as focusing on gender equity today will build a sustainable future for everyone tomorrow.

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FPM Week 2: Identify Theft / Fraud

March is Fraud Prevention Month in Canada.  Through out the month the MHPS Community Safety Unit will be sharing tips on how to recognize, reject and report common frauds and scams.  This week focuses on indentify thefts and phishing scams.

Phishing scams are one of the most common fraud attempts that happen. The word “phishing” comes from the way it is done. The fraudster will replicate a valid company or person’s email address and send out emails that act as a lure to attract potential victims. The more lures (emails) used, the more potential victims that can be reached. Phishing scams not only occur over the internet but can also occur over the phone or traditional letters mailed to the general public. The goal is to get your personal information or money.

Look out for emails, phone calls, or letters claiming that you have won a prize but need to call in or respond to an email to verify your winnings. Often times you will be asked to call in to a phone number, which requires you to pay a price per minute or flat rate. Some phishing scams will appear to be from an institution you are currently involved with and will ask that you to provide some personal information such as a credit card number or social insurance number. This should be a warning sign as your financial institution will already have this information on file.

There are several ways to protect yourself from falling victim to these scams:

  • Never respond to unsolicited requests from a company requesting personal information.
  • If you receive a notification that you have won a prize from a contest that you have never participated in, do not respond to it.
  • Block 1-900 phone numbers from calling you through your local telephone provider.
  • If you receive a request from a company you are currently involved with, whether you work for them or are a client and they are requesting money or personal information, contact your local branch of that institution directly to ensure it’s real.
  • If you receive unsolicited mail, either via email or regular mail, do your research on the company before conducting business with them. The Better Business Bureau is a great resource to confirm if they are a legitimate business with a positive reputation.

The best rule of thumb to protect yourself is to always be skeptical. Educate yourself on ways to protect your hard-earned money and seek advice if you are concerned that something might be a scam. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website (www.antifraudcentre.ca) is a great resource and contains information about many different fraud types.

Media Contact:

Sgt Adam Gregory
Medicine Hat Police Service
Community Support Unit
Ph: 403-529-8451

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Return of Coffee with a Cop

The Medicine Hat Police Service (MHPS) is excited to announce the return of a popular community engagement initiative, ‘Coffee with a Cop’. As with the previous events, Coffee with a Cop is intended to provide an opportunity to connect members of the community with members of the MHPS for informal, casual conversation over a cup of coffee – on us!

Beginning on March 9, 2022, members of the MHPS will gather at four predetermined coffee locations with a variety of dates and times selected to provide opportunities to suit most schedules.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022, from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM at Zucchini Blossom Market & Café (50 3rd St NE)

Thursday, March 17,2022, from 6:30 PM to 8:30 PM at Station Coffee Co. (644 2nd Street SE)

Monday, March 28, 2022, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Starbucks (1941 Strachan Road, 101 Southlands Crossing)

Saturday, April 2, 2022, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at Tim Hortons (2410 Division Avenue NW, Unit #2)

There will be no pre-set agenda or requirement to register to participate, our goal is simply to provide a venue for members of the community to; meet Chief Mike Worden, ask questions, voice any concerns, and get to know the men and women of the Service.

We hope to see you there!

Media Contact:

Rita Sittler
Administrative Service Manager
Medicine Hat Police Service
Ph: 403-529-8416

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Sheriff investigation shuts Medicine Hat drug house

The Alberta Sheriffs have shut down a property in Medicine Hat that was a magnet for violence and drug activity.

The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods (SCAN) unit of the Alberta Sheriffs obtained a court order against the owner of 144 5 Street SW in Medicine Hat, authorizing them to close the property for 90 days.

The community safety order took effect on March 3 and forbids anyone from entering the property until the closure period ends on June 1. Authorities installed a fence around the house, boarded up the windows and changed the locks to prevent anyone from gaining access to the premises until then.

“I want to thank the Alberta Sheriffs for their diligent work to help people in this community take back their neighbourhood. SCAN investigations and community safety orders help break the cycle of crime associated with problem properties and allow law-abiding Albertans to regain their safety and a sense of security.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General

The SCAN unit began its investigation in April 2021, in response to multiple complaints from the community about drug activity. Residents observed a steady stream of people visiting the property in vehicles, on bikes and on foot. People in the community reported finding used needles and crack pipes strewn throughout the neighbourhood.

SCAN investigators were able to substantiate the complaints by observing several drug transactions and a high volume of people coming and going from the property.

The SCAN unit also had troubling evidence from local authorities. Between January 2019 and September 2021, the Medicine Hat Police Service responded to 120 incidents at the property for a variety of reasons, including a home invasion, assaults and several overdoses. As well, local police and EMS have responded to 10 overdoses at the property in recent years – two of which were fatal.

On Feb. 17, a Court of Queen’s Bench justice granted authorities a community safety order against the property owner, who was living on the premises. After the owner regains access to the property following the 90-day closure, it will remain under supervision until the community safety order expires on Feb. 17, 2023.

The SCAN unit works with other law enforcement agencies to shut down properties being used for illegal activities. The Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods Act gives sheriffs the authority to target problem properties through civil enforcement.

Since its inception in 2008, Alberta’s SCAN unit has investigated nearly 7,000 problem properties and issued nearly 100 community safety orders. The majority of complaints are resolved by working with property owners to keep criminal activity out of the community.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Mike Letourneau of the SCAN unit and Insp. Joe West of the Medicine Hat Police Service will be available between noon and 12:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 3 for on-camera interviews at 144 5 Street SW, Medicine Hat.

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Dangerous Driving

On February 17th, 2022, at approximately 4:00 PM a MHPS patrol member observed a Jeep Compass travelling north bound on Parkview Drive NE at 123km/hr. At this time the officer turned around to apprehend the speeder however due to the driver’ s dangerous driving actions and road conditions, the officer chose not to continue their attempt to stop the vehicle in fear that it would only aggravate the suspect driver’s action which would further jeopardize the publics safety.

As a result of investigative efforts and assistance from the public, police were able to locate the vehicle at a local hotel. The driver was taken into custody and later identified as being a 37-year-old Medicine Hat man. In addition, a 40-year-old Red Deer woman was arrested, and a search warrant was subsequently executed on their hotel room. Both individuals were held in custody for numerous criminal offences. The driver has been charged with numerous offences including dangerous driving, flight from police, possession of stolen property under $5,000, theft under $5,000, possession of a weapon dangerous to the public, drug offences, possession of stolen identity documents, and breach of numerous court orders. The female has also been charged with numerous property crime and drug offences.

Thanks again to all the members of the public who aided police in locating this suspect and keep the public safe!

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Fraud Prevention Month

March 2022 marks the 18th anniversary of Fraud Prevention Month in Canada, a month-long crime prevention initiative aimed at educating and informing consumers and the community on how to recognize, report, and stop fraud.

Thousands of Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life are defrauded each year, costing Canadians in excess of $100 million dollars per year. There is no typical fraud victim as individuals and business across all demographics and industries can be impacted.

Consumers can play a role in stopping fraud by arming themselves with information, recognizing and reporting fraud when they encounter it. It is important for consumers to remain vigilant and aware of the many different types of fraud scams out there as they are ever-changing, and new trends are always emerging.

Throughout the month, the Medicine Hat Police Service Community Support Unit will be sharing information on how to recognize and stop from falling victim to common frauds and scams. Each week will focus on a different theme, with week one focusing on crypto currency frauds / scams/

With the emergence of crypto currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, fraudsters have another tool to attempt to commit fraud with. Crypto currencies are a type of currency accepted worldwide without government or bank control. This has made it increasingly more difficult for people to contact someone directly to confirm that a transaction is real.

Often, fraudsters will use traditional scams such as mass marketing and phishing phone or email scams and lure victims through investment opportunities in crypto currency. The fraudsters will either have victims purchase crypto currency and send it as an investment or send the fraudster real money for them to purchase crypto currency for them. Either way, the fraudster takes the funds, controls them, and never provides the money back.

The same rules apply here. If you do not know who is investing your money, don’t give them your money. If an investment opportunity comes out of the blue and appears to be too good to be true, it likely is. Always be vigilant, ensure you trust the person or company that you are investing your money with, and research the crypto currency yourself to understand how it works and how to get involved with it.

Gift cards, or at least their codes, are also increasingly being used by fraudsters. Scammers will contact potential victims hoping to make them believe they owe money, or that a relative needs money, or they have won money. All they ask for, is for the person to go to a local store and purchase a variety of gift cards and call them back to provide the codes on the back. These codes are then used as a form of online currency by the fraudster to make online purchases.

If you are ever concerned that something is not legitimate, do not participate or share information and remember that legitimate businesses such as the CRA, CBSA, police, telephone providers, lottery companies, airlines, and other companies will never ask you to purchase gift cards and send the codes to them.

For more information contact:

Sgt Adam Gregory
Medicine Hat Police Service
Community Support Unit
Ph: 403-529-8451

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