CALGARY -- Beware people online offering advanced fee loans, puppies, home improvement services, crypto-currency or a dream job.

And better think twice before swiping right on a would-be soul mate, too.

That was the message Monday from the Calgary police and the Better Business Bureau, at a press conference promoting Fraud Prevention Month in Calgary.

According to Calgary police Const. John Pyne of the CPS’s police service fraud team, fraudsters cost Calgarians close to $4 million 2020, virtually doubling the $2 million they lost in 2019. Pyne added those rip-offs came through a variety of methods, including phishing email, websites, texts and other online platforms, in addition to telephone calls.

“What all these scams share,” said Better Business Bureau president and CEO Mary O’Sullivan Anderson, “is a motivation to steal your money, and personal information.”

The fraud prevention campaign aims to educate citizens about how to recognize, report and stop fraud.

“Now, more than ever, people are spending more time online due to COVID-19 restrictions and provincial health orders,” said Pye, in a press release. “Our priority is to work with our partners to help citizens spot the red flags of these scams and encourage people to come forward and report their experiences, especially if their personal information has been compromised or they’ve suffered a monetary loss.”

Some of the most common red flags to be on the lookout for with scammers include:

●       Misspelled email addresses, websites, links or spelling errors in the message;

●       Suspicious attachments or links;

●       Urgent requests with threats of legal action if demands are not met;

●       Payment requested in unlikely formats such as pre-paid gift cards, money transfers or other non-secure payments and;

●       Requests for personal or financial information.