While the advancement of the Internet may have provided a wealth of information to the public, it has also become a breeding ground for fraudsters and those looking to make a quick buck or two on the misfortune or naivety of others.
The Rimbey RCMP, for example, are reporting that during the past several weeks, they have received numerous complaints of frauds of varying degrees.
In most cases, the frauds deal with the sale and purchase of big-ticket items such as vehicles and boats over the Internet where the unsuspecting buyer has sent money via an untraceable means such as a money transfer.
“The circumstances in which fraud can exist are enormously diverse and while the form frauds take or how it is perpetrated may evolve, they are still crimes of deception. Basically, if a deal sounds too good to be true, it most likely is,” said Sgt. Mark Groves of the Rimbey RCMP. “Since the majority of frauds being reported are committed through the Internet, the public needs to protect themselves by not giving out any personal information and by being vigilant in reporting fraudsters.”
Specifically, Groves said it is imperative to never release information such as bank account numbers, personal identification numbers (PIN), passwords in the case of online banking or credit card information over the telephone, in the form of emails or any other method and reminded the public that registered financial institutions do not solicit information that way.
Above all else however, frauds will only work if there is a victim involved and Groves said it comes down to exercising some common sense and being able to recognize when a fraud has been undertaken.
“The bottom line is do not send money that cannot be traced. Research your purchase and trust your instincts,” Groves said. “If you are buying a truck that has a retail value of over $20,000 and you just found an amazing deal for the same truck for under $7,000, beware!”
If the public suspects they are a victim of fraud, in addition to reporting it to police, Groves also highly recommends reporting the matter to Phonebusters, a joint investigative body that gathers information and investigates Internet and telemarketing frauds.
Citizens who receive emails or suspected fraudulent phone calls are asked to contact Phonebusters at 1-888-495-8501, or online at www.phonebusters.com.
Between 2004 and 2006, statistics provided by Phonebusters indicate an increase in reported dollars lost through mass-marketing fraud (MMF) complaints. Additionally, the number of telephone calls received at the centre increased by almost 60 per cent, from 92,307 in 2005 to 146,393 in 2006.