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Fighting scammers across Durham Region

March is Fraud Prevention Month

By Dave Flaherty/The Oshawa Express

There are usually only two guarantees in life, death and taxes – but fraudsters at all ends of the world trying to scheme people out of their money may need to be added to that list.

Jessica Gunson, acting call centre and intake unit manager for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says 2017 was another banner year for scammers despite the fact that in October 2016, a takedown of a fraud call centre in India led to a drastic decline in the number of reports made to the Anti-Fraud Centre.

In fact, the number of complaints dropped from 3,579 in July 2016 to only 61 in December 2016.

However, Gunson points out complaints have continued to steadily climb since then.

In all, the centre received 71,793 mass marketing complaints resulting in a loss of more than $110 million last year.

And as appalling as those numbers are, the actual amount Canadians are losing to fraud is likely much higher, as only about five per cent of victims file complaints.

March is Fraud Prevention Month and efforts are being made to keep residents in the know of how to “recognize, reject and report scams.”

According to a Durham Regional Police Service media release, instances of counterfeit U.S. currency are on the rise in Durham Region.

Not only are businesses being targeted, but individuals selling items online are also falling victim.

So far this year, DRPS investigators have received 24 reports involving phoney U.S. bills and have made six arrests.

In addition, the ever-present Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) scam is still making its notorious rounds.

In all, extortion rings such as the CRA scams bilked 1,046 Canadians out of nearly $5 million in 2017.

A typical CRA swindle will involve a call to a resident from somebody claiming to represent the organization. The caller will inform the victim their account is in arrears and if immediate action isn’t taken, they will be arrested.

Victims are usually directed to send cash, a money order, e-transfer or purchase gift cards or bitcoin as a means of payment.

The scammers will often attempt to sound legitimate by making reference to an account or personal information.

Even though police services and the Anti-Fraud Centre have attempted to alert and educate the public regarding these scams ad nauseam, Gunson does not see any let up from criminals.

“As long they are making any kind of money they will continue,” she says.

Another scam that is currently gaining traction involves a call from a scam artist pretending to be a representative from their bank.

The caller will inform the victim they are investigating fraudulent activity on their account and instruct them to contact their bank.

However, the call is not actually disconnected, and the victim is transferred to another scammer.

Gunson says while this may sound like a rudimental approach to defrauding people, the ‘sense of urgency’ people may have puts them in a vulnerable position.

If you believe you’ve become a victim of fraud, contact Durham Regional Police at 1-888-579-1520 or the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501.

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