#DontBfooled By Online Fraud

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 11:52 a.m. March 13, 2015
Updated: 11:53 a.m. March 13, 2015

Grade Nine student Paulina Belsue-Moniz and some of her classmates at Danforth Collegiate & Technical Institute have pledged to practice safety on the internet after a fraud prevention presentation at their school March 12.

A woman speaks to girls in an auditorium
Financial Crimes Staff Inspector Mary Lee Metcalfe speaks to students after the presentation

The Service teamed up with the  Financial Services Commission of Ontario and the  Toronto District School Board, who hosted the event, aimed at enhancing public outreach on financial crime, scams and consumer protection issues.

“Hackers are very smart so you have to very careful about what you do online,” said Belsue-Moniz. “After what we have learned today, I am going to be even more careful about what I post.”

The  #DontBFooled event featured dramatic presentations and keynote speeches.

“This is a special event because it exposes all of the digital activity that compromises your reputation and your identity,” Deputy Chief Mark Saunders told the students. “Today is an opportunity for us to teach and, when we teach, we empower and, when we empower, we make you stronger. Your chances of becoming a victim are less. So, today, we are going to protect your money, your reputation and your identity which is going to be important.

“…But let’s not be over-conscious. In life, you are going to get fooled. It’s going to happen. But, today, we are going to help give you the tools so your chances of getting fooled are going to be less… You are our future. If we can make you stronger, then this city will continue to be the best city in the world.”

A man speaks into a microphone
Deputy Chief Mark Saunders speaks to students about online safety

Victim Services Toronto Executive Director Bonnie Levine said victims of fraud are emotionally scarred.

“We can’t get your money back, your Facebook account back and your images, but we can help you deal with the emotional aftermath which is often embarrassment and humiliation. It sometimes leads to really severe depression and, as we have seen in some cases, suicide,” she pointed out. “Not only are your finances at risk, but your long-term opportunities are at risk when you are violated online.”

Insurance Bureau of Canada Ontario region vice-president Ralph Palumbo told the students he can relate to the degradation victims of fraud suffer because he was a target.

“I am a victim of a staged collision,” he said. “It’s scary, it’s dangerous and it’s not just fun,” he added. “Fraud is just about everywhere, especially in the tech-heavy world in which we live today…Fraudsters just don’t target people online. They are on our roads too.”

Frank Denton, Assistant Deputy Minister in the  Ministry of Consumer Services, attended the event.

“The internet is evolving quickly and there are so many great things you can do online,” he said. “But there are people all around the world who are moving just as fast to trick you.  It’s very important your generation is keeping up with the scams that are coming, the frauds and the tricks to separate people from their money illegally… You have to protect yourself because there are not enough police and government inspectors to go around.”

Hannah Jacob, in Grade Nine, said the event was educational.

“I learned a lot and it was just an amazing and enjoyable day,” she said. “It’s good that we are reminded that we should stay safe on the internet.”

Serene Guaragain agreed.

“It was a great learning experience,” she noted. “You just can’t post anything online because that can be dangerous…You have to be very careful.”

Staff Inspector Mary Lee Metcalfe and Detectives Natalie Hegarty  (@hegartyFCU) and Gail Regan  (@ReganFCU) of TPS Financial Crimes played key roles in organizing the event.

Students were encouraged to tweet questions and comments about online risks using the #DontBFooled hashtag on twitter.

March is Fraud Prevention Month.

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.

Visit the  Financial Crimes webpage for information on common scams

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