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Fraud prevention seminar held to educate public

Police officer educates crowd on fraud prevention.

With a number of different frauds attempting to swindle the public out of their money, a local credit union attempted to educate people on them.

Libro Credit Union welcomed Const. Nick Dupuis, the community services officer with the Windsor Police Service – Amherstburg Detachment, for a fraud prevention seminar last Tuesday evening at the Libro Centre. Approximately 35 people attended the session.

Dupuis pointed out that the Amherstburg Detachment has already investigated 26 fraud complaints in the first three months of 2024. He said the goal of the seminar was to help people stay safe.

“We have to stop giving away our money,” he said.

Frauds impact people of all ages, not just seniors, and Dupuis said it has gone from a time where it was notable when people received a telemarketing call to the point where it is now a regular occurrence. He noted fraud is different from theft in that people who are victimized by fraud are tricked into willingly giving away their money.

“These scams can be so good that it is hard to identify them,” he said. “There should be no shame or embarrassment about fraud. A lot of people don’t report it. Everyone is being victimized.”

Scammers often follow detailed scripts and keep asking people questions until they get the answers they are looking for, which is usually personal information.

“If you give them any information, they are going to try and get more and more,” he said.

Tips given by Dupuis included not giving money away, for people to “be a detective” and ask a lot of questions, change PIN numbers every three to six months, not using personal information such as birthdays or anniversaries in a PIN, to “slow down” and consider what the person is offering and asking for second opinions from friends and family.

The first scam Dupuis warned of was the bank inspector fraud. He said a caller will contact a suspecting victim wanted to perform an “integrity check” on their money. People may also be asked to wire money to another account.

“Once the money is gone, it will not be returned to you ever,” said Dupuis.

“Banks conduct their own investigations. They will not ask clients to assist with them.”

The “grandparents scheme” was also reviewed, with Dupuis stating older people are contacted by a person claiming to be a grandchild or other relative. The caller will say they are in trouble, need money, but asks not to tell their parents.

“We have to be detectives. Ask questions to confirm more information,” said Dupuis.

Should the caller start getting information wrong, people should hang up the phone, Dupuis advised. If a caller claims to be in jail, bail is not accepted over the phone, by wire transfer or gift cards.

The “romance scheme,” otherwise known as “catfishing,” sees people lured into a relationship via phone or internet and often sees the scammer not willing to actually meet the person they are involved with. Dupuis said such relationships could last for several years and lead to scammers building up a level of trust and then asking the people for money.

“Once they get money, they are going to ask for more money,” said Dupuis. “Never send money to someone you haven’t met.”

The “prize scam” involves people contacted about supposedly winning a prize or contest, only to be asked to pay for insurance, legal fees or other expenses.

“When you are the winner of a legitimate prize, you never have to pay for the prize,” said Dupuis.

Dupuis added: “You can’t win a contest if you didn’t enter into it.”

The “computer repair scam” sees a person contacted via phone or e-mail with the scammer claiming there is an issue with their computer.

“Once they have access to your computer, there are all kinds of tricks they can do,” said Dupuis.

Often, the person pulling the scam will tell the victim to check their bank accounts with the goal being to gain access to them.

“If your computer is running fine, there is no reason to try and repair it,” said Dupuis. “No one knows if you have problems unless they see it. Never give a stranger access to your computer.”

The public was also advised of the “online shopping scam” with people being lured in by favourable online prices and told to send money to “hold” an item.

Not only should people not send money in those cases, they should not agree to meet in unsafe areas to make transactions. Dupuis advised people not to pay for items they haven’t received yet and to go online or use other means to evaluate the seller. If something looks suspicious, don’t proceed with the transaction.

“Phishing” was also covered, with that also being known as website spoofing.

Scammers are often seeking personal information and use websites that often resemble those of legitimate companies. The public should watch for spelling and grammar mistakes and for suspicious-looking website links.

“If you are nervous about it, call someone,” he said.

The “CRA” scam was discussed with Dupuis stating the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will never phone, text or e-mail people asking for personal information.

Calls claiming a person will go to jail for owing money are fraudulent, with Dupuis stating the CRA doesn’t work with the police.

“The CRA will not solicit the police to make arrests,” he said.

Scams where people claiming to be in positions of authority, such as CRA, Visa, Microsoft or credit card companies, and then asking for payment in gift cards or iTunes cards were advised against. Dupuis said scammers will often use pressure tactics and tell potential victims not to contact anyone about the transaction, but simply to get gift cards and read out the codes on them to the caller.

“You will never be contacted by banks, government agencies or reputable companies looking for gift cards,” said Dupuis. “Any time someone asks you to keep things a secret, that’s a red flag. It’s a scam.”

Identity fraud was covered with people encouraged to contact authorities should they lose their wallets. Even if they regain them, Dupuis said people could have still taken photos of their personal information such as drivers’ licenses and social insurance numbers. Fraud artists will also “dumpster dive” to try and retrieve a person’s credit card or another type of personal information, with people encouraged to shred such information.

Part of Dupuis’ presentation was also about “sextortion,” with Dupuis stating that entails people being drawn into relationships where they are eventually convinced to send nude photos of themselves as part of what they think is an actual relationship. The photos are then used against the person and people are then blackmailed into sending money.

“Don’t engage with someone you don’t know,” said Dupuis. “They don’t care about you. They just want your money.”

Dupuis said companies like Equifax or TransUnion can often verify if a person has fallen victim to a fraud.

“Don’t give your money away,” he added. “Be a detective and ask lots of questions.”

Fraud prevention seminar held to educate public

By Ron Giofu

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