Edmonton police were highlighting the impact of scams on victims Wednesday to launch Fraud Prevention Month.
There were about 723 fraud victims in Alberta’s capital in 2016 who collectively lost $1.1 million. Police are expecting the numbers to increase.
Edmonton police are using personal stories of fraud victims to highlight the importance of fraud prevention.
In 2011, Edmonton senior Hilda Schulz fell prey to the well-known grandparent scam and was defrauded of $7,080, police said.
“At the time, my instinct was to help out my grandson who was in trouble,” Schulz said. “But knowing what I know now, I should have checked with family to see if there really was an emergency.”
Schultz said she received a call in May 2011 from someone who claimed to be her grandson and needed help. The grandson had allegedly been arrested for impaired driving in Quebec and needed money for bail.
He asked her not to contact his parents because they’d be furious and ashamed about what he did.
Schultz received a call a short time later from another man claiming to be her grandson’s lawyer, who told the Edmonton senior she had to transfer $3,000 immediately for her grandson’s bail.
After she wired the money, Schultz was contacted again by the alleged lawyer, who asked for an additional $3,800 so her grandson could pay the fine and get his driver’s licence back. She again transfered the money.
Schultz contacted her family in Calgary the next day and found out her grandson was in Calgary working, not in Quebec. She contacted police.
Schultz incident was one of eight grandparent frauds reported to Edmonton police in 2011, where victims lost a total of about $34,000.
There were two grandparent scams reported to Edmonton police in 2016, with victims losing about $7,000.
While the number of fraud cases reported increased by 23 per cent from 2015 to 2016, Edmonton police believe embarrassment keeps many people from reporting the crime.
“Fraudsters take advantage of our human nature, so we can lose more than money or property or identity, we often lose our dignity and trust,” Insp. Peter Bruni-Bossio said.
“As a community we need to reach out to these victims, share their stories, and build a greater awareness of fraud so we can prevent further victimization in the future.”
Mayor Don Iveson declared March 2017 Fraud Prevention Month in Edmonton.
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