Education Can Keep You From Being an On-Line Fraud Victim

March is Fraud Prevention Month

ORILLIA, Ontario, March 1, 2012 /Canada NewsWire/ - As the online world continues to evolve daily, so have the scams criminals use to defraud unwitting consumers, according to members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Anti-Rackets Branch.

The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC; formerly Phonebusters) reports on-line fraud scams are increasingly impacting Canadian consumers, taking millions of dollars out of the pockets of victims every year.

"Perpetrators of fraud prey upon the most vulnerable people in society and the impact of their fraudulent activities is staggering. The money taken is used to fuel other illegal activities, further victimizing the unsuspecting public." - Deputy Commissioner Scott TOD, OPP Investigations and Organized Crime

During online anti-virus repair schemes, representatives 'cold call' individuals and state that, for example, "your computer is running slow" or "has viruses". The fraudsters then offer to repair the computer over the Internet, which can involve the installation of software or the customers allowing the representatives remote access to their computer. Payment for the software or repair service is handled via credit card. In 2011, the CAFC received 9,349 complaints from Canadians. The 2,119 people who were identified as victims lost a total of just under $447,000.

Other variations of the scam involve consumers responding to pop-up ads online. These pop-ups are often referred to as 'Scareware' as the message in the pop-up is commonly crafted to make you feel a sense of alarm and anxiety and that there is a threat to your computer if you don't click on the link.

Allowing a third party to download software or remotely access a computer carries inherent risks. 'Keyloggers' or other malicious software could be installed to capture sensitive data, such as online banking user names and passwords, bank account information, and your identity information.

Police advise you to invest in and install reputable security software and keep it up to date.

"The OPP officer who started Phonebusters in the 1990's -- Barry Elliott -- realized quickly that police cannot catch all of the fraudsters. An educated consumer is still the best defence against online fraud." -- Detective Inspector Paul Beesley, OPP Anti-Rackets Branch

If you suspect you or someone you know has been a victim of on-line fraud, contact your local police service or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).

FRAUD…Recognize it…Report it…Stop it.


OPP - March is Fraud Prevention Month

Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre - Online Fraud

Glossary of Pitch Types from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

Phishing: Any e-mail falsely claiming to be an established legitimate organization such as a financial institution, business or government agency in an attempt to have the consumer surrender private and personal information. The e-mail may request or direct the consumer to visit a web site where they are asked to update or provide personal and/or financial information.

Modem-Hijacking: Any victim who unknowingly downloads a virus or program that uses the phone line to make long distance calls.

Personal Information: Any solicitation where an individual is asked for or to verify private and personal information.