Mass-marketing fraud costs Canadians nearly $10 billion annually.
As Canada’s largest urban centre and banking capital, Toronto is the main target of the scams, ranging from letters from purported wealthy Africans offering massive payments to get money out of their countries, to prize offers that involve calling a 1-900 number that ends up costing the consumer far more than the value of their supposed winnings.
At this year’s Fraud Prevention Month launch on Feb. 27 at Father Malachy Catholic School in Scarborough, Staff Inspector Mary Lee Metcalfe said education is key to helping the public recognize consumer scams.
“These types of events are very instrumental in creating an interactive environment to exchange information, to educate and become aware because there are individuals within our community who exploit opportunity, affect our safety, compromise our hard-earned livelihood and also, most importantly, compromise the integrity of our identities,” said Metcalfe, who heads up theFinancial Crimes Section of the Organized Crime Enforcement unit.
“The key to stopping this type of crime is held strongly in the message of tonight’s event and that is prevention and education. If we learn how to recognize, report and avoid situations that others would exploit, we will safeguard ourselves, our communities and our families against fraud… With an aging population, seniors are being targeted and our youth, who are on social media and networking sites constantly, are an emerging vulnerable group to fraud as they post personal information on public platforms.”
If we learn how to recognize, report and avoid situations that others would exploit, we will safeguard ourselves, our communities and our families against fraud
Member of Provincial Parliament Mitzie Hunter praised Toronto Police for their aggressiveness in going after scammers.
“For those who have fallen victim to fraud, the impact can be devastating,” she said. “People’s life savings, homes and, in some cases, even lives have been lost. One of the best weapons to fight fraud is education. As in any battle, it’s great to have committed allies like Toronto Police.
To reach a broader audience, Financial Crimes investigators use Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to share information and crime-prevention tips.
“Since the advent of the internet, the world has indeed become a very small place,” said Detective-Sergeant Cameron Field. “Fraudsters are constantly trolling the internet, posing as legitimate bankers, salespersons and single people looking for love. Their only aim is to defraud decent hardworking Canadians. Toronto Police has engaged in an aggressive and inclusive social media campaign to better inform our community of scams and trends in real time.”
The Service’s Financial Crimes section, along with 43 Division and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario, coordinated the event.
For more information on fraud, visit the Toronto Police Service Financial Crimes web page.