March – Fraud Prevention Month: Beware the tools in a con-artist’s on-line toolbox

This is Fraud Prevention month, and the South Bruce Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is asking residents to continue watching out for cons and scams after more than $72,000 has been sent to scammers, year-to-date, by residents of Southern Bruce County.

Cons and scams are attempted daily through online platforms, by phone, by letter mail, or by fax.  The reality is that fraud is a multi-million-dollar enterprise that will only end when the con artists stop making money.

Year to date; Twenty-four fraud reports have been received by the South Bruce OPP. Seven of these scam attempts resulted in total dollar losses of $72,950. All of these “successful” scams were for the purchase of goods arranged online.

Although scammers will change tactics and come up with new schemes, here are some of the common “tools” in a con artist’s toolbox:

.  Spoofing: Appears to be contact from a friend, legitimate company or even a branch of the government, but it’s not. They can manipulate caller-ID to display a number they want. To avoid the scam; end the call and connect with the real person, company, branch of the government. If it’s an email, hover over the sender and see what email address shows up.

.  Urgency: “Act now”, “limited time offer”, “click now”. The scammer doesn’t want you to consider the offer as suspicious. To avoid the scam; time is on your side. Verify the contact BEFORE you go any further.

.  Emotional manipulation: Con artists will play on your emotions to get your money. Romance scam, emergency scam, grandparent scam, charity scam. To avoid the scam; be suspicious when they play on your emotions. Check out the Anti-Fraud Centre’s A-Z index of scams, maybe this is a listed scam.

.  Pop-ups: Boxes that appear on your computer or device screen. “You’ve won a prize”, “your device is infected”, etc. A toll-free number is provided for you to call. To avoid the scam; install anti-virus, pop-up blockers, clear your cache, block cookies – when possible. Don’t use public Wi-Fi – particularly for online banking. Never call the number in a pop-up.

The South Bruce OPP is offering you some tips to help protect you from a con artist:

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it likely is
  • Remember that you can’t win a contest that you didn’t enter in the first place
  • If you have a concern about your computer, take it to a reputable repair shop for service. Do not provide remote access to a “tech” that calls you out of the blue
  • Gift cards are a red flag. If someone contacts you and directs you to buy gift cards, you need to hang up the phone
  • Your best defence is to verify any unsolicited contact. Unsolicited means that you didn’t ask for it.

Anyone interested in more information on fraud can contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1 888 495 8501 or check online at

The South Bruce OPP is requesting anyone with information to call 1-888-310-1122. Should you wish to remain anonymous, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or submit a secure web-tip at, where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2000.