Fraud Prevention Month

March 2023 marks the 19th 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.

Each year, thousands of Canadians of all ages and from all walks of life are defrauded, costing Canadians hundreds of millions of dollars per year. Medicine Hat citizens are part of these statistics.

According to recent data released by the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, over $530 million in losses were reported in 2022, and that it is estimated that only 5% to 10% of victims of fraud report to the CAFC. The Medicine Hat Police Service responded to 470 calls for service related to frauds last year.

Consumers have a role to play in stopping fraud by arming themselves with the facts and reporting fraud when they encounter it. Recognizing fraud is the first step to better protecting yourself. 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. This week will focus on online scams and fraud, which are among the most frequently reported.

Scammers will sometimes take advantage of online marketplaces to sell items they don’t possess. Typically, they will request a down payment or full payment up front and then the item is never provided to the purchaser. In some cases, scammers will present people with employment or investment opportunities that are very appealing but require a fee first before reaping the rewards. This fee may be requested in the form of an e-transfer, code from a gift card or another online currency.

With the emergence of crypto currencies, fraudsters have been given another tool to attempt to commit fraud with. Crypto currencies are a type of currency without government or bank control. This has made it increasingly difficult for people to contact someone directly to confirm that a transaction is legitimate.

In general, most companies will not request payment for goods or services in the form of gift card codes, or deposits into crypto currencies. As many of the scammers are not located in Canada, once the money is transferred it is extremely difficult to investigate and hold anyone accountable.

Other traditional scams will use mass marketing or phishing 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. Either way once the fraudster receives the funds the victim will never see a return.

Remember, 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 before getting involved with it.

If you are ever concerned that something is not legitimate, do not engage and always remember that government agencies such as the Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Border Service Agency will never ask for gift cards or bitcoin as a form of payment.

For more information on common frauds and scams visit the Canada Anti-Fraud Centre website 

Media Contact:

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