Calgarians who are concerned about the dangers posed by fraudsters online are being invited to take part in a series of information sessions taking place throughout March for Fraud Prevention Month.

According to the city, 4,500 people lost over $61M in various schemes conducted by criminals in person, online and over the phone.

Fraud is unfortunately becoming more and more common and incidents are also evolving with changes in technology too.

“As technology evolves, so do the tactics that scammers use to defraud victims,” says Staff Sergeant Jeremy Wittman of the CPS Cyber/Forensics Unit in a release. “With a touch of a button or a simple phone call, scammers can target citizens all over the world. Citizens need to be aware of this so that they can recognize a potential fraud and protect themselves.”

Dr. Kelly Sundberg, co-founder of the Public Safety and Security Research Group and an associate professor at Mount Royal University, says that it’s important for residents to be aware of the dangers because that’s how they can best protect themselves.

He says that anyone can be a victim of fraud.

“Our information is everywhere. It’s pretty impossible not to have some level of our identity out there somewhere. Now, it comes to the point where we just have to be very conscious and cautious on what we can do to best protect ourselves,” Sundberg says. “We hear a lot about the senior citizens being impacted but a lot of these criminals will take a ‘shotgun approach’. They’ll send it to everybody; it’s just whatever list they can buy. We’re all vulnerable to this.”

Sundberg says that often it does take time for people to even realize they’ve been victimized but even once they do, it’s difficult to figure out exactly where to go to get help.

“Do you go to the Calgary Police Service? Do you go to the RCMP? Do you go to the Bank of Canada? Where do you go? So, it’s important to know, through the awareness, what to report, where to report and what can be done about it.”

He says that Calgarians do have an advantage in protection against cybercrime, because the CPS has one of the most robust units in the entire country.

Throughout the month, the CPS will be providing citizens with the information they need to protect themselves and are focusing on the following themes in March:

  • Week 1 - Cybercrime
  • Week 2 – Mass Marketing Scams
  • Week 3 – Business/Service Scams
  • Week 4 – Financial Crime

There is also a cybersecurity seminar for large businesses, a fraud protection seminar for citizens and a Fraud Awareness Day at Cross Iron Mills mall on March 17.