Police are warning people to be vigilant after the province has been hit by several door-to-door, telephone and Internet scams, including one which targeted a Stettler resident.
These scams frequently target high-risk individuals like seniors or those with reduced mental capacity, but that doesn’t mean scammers don’t try to take a bite out of businesses either.
Recently, the Stettler Board of Trade sent out a warning advising local businesses to be on their guard after receiving a report about a scam where employees would receive phone calls from an individual claiming to be from the company that services their printing and photocopying equipment. They ask for the make and model of their equipment, and then send large and expensive packages of toner to the business.
In larger businesses these scams often go unnoticed, with the invoice simply paid off, the Board of Trade’s email warned.
For one Stettler resident, the scam took another turn. Advised that she was a lucky winner, she gave out her personal information before realizing that she was being duped. It was only when the caller began asking for money to be sent that the resident realized the call wasn’t above board and hung up and called police.
Never pay to play
You don’t have to pay to take part in a raffle or sweepstakes, explain police. If you receive emails or phone calls saying that you’ve won money, but you need to send money to cover charges, it’s not legitimate.
Scams are designed to play on emotions like excitement and fear; they ramp up these feelings so caution is thrown to the wind, which is how people fall victim to scams they’d normally never fall for, according to the Anti-Fraud Centre.
Many people choose to not report being defrauded simply because of the embarrassment of falling victim to what is, in hindsight, very obviously a ploy, the centre notes, but encourages victims to step forward regardless.
By the numbers
Statistics by the Canadian Anti-Fraud centre show that in 2014, 14,355 people reported being victimized by a scam, and lost a total of $73,432,904.71. Of that significant amount, roughly $69 million was lost by Canadians.
It’s a lucrative business for scammers, who the year before pulled in a reported $59.5 million from victims.
This is only the tip of the iceberg as well, with these numbers being reported to the anti-fraud centre. It doesn’t consider the amount lost by individuals who don’t report, or who are victimized in other countries.