March is fraud prevention month. Each year, thousands of Canadians fall victim to fraud, losing millions of dollars. According to the Winnipeg Police Service, in 2018 Canadians lost over $3.4 million in scams involving prepaid credit cards and in 2019, Canadians lost over $3.2 million to the ‘Bank Investigator Scam’. Manitobans accounted for $1 million of those losses making it the top scam in Manitoba.
The ‘Bank Investigator Scam’ is when a person receives a phone call and are told of a suspicious transaction that occurred on their bank or credit card account. They are told to hang up and immediately and call the toll-free phone number on the back of their payment card. When the victim hangs up and begins dialing, the fraudster stays on the line and poses as a bank investigator. The fraudster then asks the victim to help with an ongoing investigation by removing money from their own account and sending it to them or someone else’s account.
Signs of Fraudulent Activity and Tips
- If it seems too good to be true, it usually is.
- Financial institutions will never ask you to transfer money to someone else’s account
- Be wary of early morning calls from bank investigators. They will try to catch victims when they are least alert.
- Do not assume the phone numbers on your call display are accurate. Fraudsters are able to disguise themselves.
- Never provide your banking information to a stranger. If you get a call from someone about a suspicious transaction speak to a representative from your local bank branch.
- Before entering into any transaction or “deal” read the full contract. Don’t hesitate to contact the Consumers Bureau or The Better Business Bureau for more information.
Here are some commonly accessed resources to help protect yourself, or others, from fraud.
The Frauds and Scams pamphlet developed by the Winnipeg Police Service reviews the types of frauds that exist, common techniques used by fraudsters, tips on how to protect yourself and what to do if you fall victim to a fraud.
Manitoba Consumer Protection Office provides resources on how consumers can protect themselves from frauds and scams, among other topics.
Many local Seniors Resource Councils, in partnership with the local police, offer training in fraud awareness. Here are a few councils that offer it as a direct program:
Some Senior Resource Councils may offer fraud awareness by request. We recommend you contact them directly to find out for sure. Click here for a list of councils in Manitoba. Other councils that may not be listed on 211 can be found here.
The following agencies also provide information about fraud prevention and awareness:
- The Manitoba Association of Senior Centres offers Police Academy for local area seniors. If you are outside of Winnipeg call the Rural Program Coordinator 204-841-1428 to request a training session for your organization. You may also be able to reach out your local city police and request information or training about fraud awareness
- Winnipeg Police
- Brandon Police
Reporting a Crime
If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud, you can report it to:
- The Canadian Anti- Fraud Centre
- Your local RCMP detachment (select alternate locations near the bottom of that page)
- The 911 non-emergency line: 204-986-6222
- File a police report online at www.Winnipeg.ca/police
- The Financial Crimes Unit: 204-986-6231