Edmonton Police Service is working to tackle online fraud after many Edmontonians fell victim to scams and fraud last year.
According to EPS, 279 Edmontonians lost $723,500.69 last year to online merchandise and ticket frauds.
Some of the most common types of fraud include online merchandise, tickets, and romance scams.
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A local Oilers fan named Keith was scammed out of $600 in an online ticket scam trying to buy tickets to the Oilers’ last game of the season last year, when a scammer built trust over a series of phone calls and emails, before ultimately blocking his number without providing him with tickets.
“He talked to us on the phone, we had his phone number… he even gave our money back the first time,” Keith explained. “He really let us trust him.”
According to police, online scams are quite complex, and often interwoven.
“The online employment victim sends money to the online romance scam victim, who in turn sends money to the online investment scam victim, who sends all of it in a bitcoin transfer, never to be traced or found,” said the release.
In Edmonton last year 62 victims fell for online romance scams, with one victim losing as much as $270,000 dollars.
“Education and understanding are key to the prevention of victimization from fraud,” said Detective Linda Herczeg with the Economic Crimes Section.
“If you have social media accounts, learn how to safely use the sites, and take the time to educate yourself on the scams and frauds committed on those platforms. Don’t be so willing to ‘buy’ love by sending money to someone who is not physically present in your life.”
Police say fraud remains an underreported crime because of fear of being judged or shamed, but they hope more people will come forward in the future.
More information on common scams can be found online.