Albertans lost $5.4 million to scam calls last year, anti-fraud centre data says
The amount that phone scammers have stolen from Albertans has nearly doubled compared to two years prior, mirroring a national trend with fewer victims, but millions of dollars lost.
Data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre shows that in 2022 there were 849 reported victims of scam calls in Alberta, totaling more than $5.4 million.
In 2021, 757 Albertans lost $3.4 million and in 2020, 927 people lost $2.1 million. The data relies on what was reported to the centre.
Jeff Horncastle, acting client and communications outreach officer at the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, said last year service scams — for example the claim to be a cellphone service provider offering an urgent deal and bank investigator reports — historically a debt collection call from Visa or Mastercard — climbed up.
Emergency grandparent scams, calls that say a grandchild is in jail, the hospital, or an accident and needs money, took more than a million dollars from Albertans last year, which significantly boosted the numbers, Horncastle said.
“That multiplied by ten in 2022, and that’s the same thing in Canada as well and overall reports to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre … that was one of the big contributing factors there.”
He said there isn’t just one reason why Canadians lost more in 2022, but added that scammers increasingly have access to more information which they can use to seem legitimate.
“Their information, their name, their phone number is more than likely online, right?”
“The online directory. If we’re sharing information about our family and stuff on social media, well, that information can probably be used, for example, the grandparent scam, where fraudsters in some cases know the name of the grandchild and the name of the grandparents,” Horncastle said.
Certain types of scams were particularly costly — last year 30 Albertans lost a total of $2.1 million to investment scams, an average of around $72,000 per victim.
Vanessa Iafolla, Halifax fraud consultant and an instructor in the department of criminology at Wilfrid Laurier University, agreed that information that has been accumulating online for so many years makes it easy for scammers to gain access to information about their victims.
“They can market it or target you accordingly, but also because there’s information about you that they can use to understand, and exploit you. This is the thing about scammers, this is the trick,” she said.
She added that scam calls have proliferated in recent years, with a marked increase in the diversity of the types of calls.
“There’s more people after more money … at least in the cases that I’m aware of, scammers are getting much, much better at picking targets who they’ll be able to get more money out of,” Iafolla said.
The most commonly reported calls to Albertans were related to offers for services, or bank investigation calls— which can include debt collection, and extortion — the threat that if you don’t send money immediately you will be arrested.
Data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre shows that nationally, Canadians lost more than $45 million dollars in 2022, $41 million in 2021, and $24 million in 2020.
Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said people who have a Calgary area code are likely to receive scam calls regarding debt collection.
Between October and December 2022, CRTC said the 403 area code was among the most targeted by those types of calls.
This CRTC’s investigation division grouped complaints from Canadians into a variety of categories, using analytics received through the National Do Not Call List Operator (National DNCL) and Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.
The area codes most targeted by scam calls related to debt collection in that time frame are 226, 403, 450, 581, 639, 780 and 905, the CRTC said.
Iafolla said scams are often socially responsive or related to the things people are talking about, for example COVID-19 related calls that emerged during the pandemic, or donations solicited for victims of a national disaster.
The people behind the scam calls will very often pivot to the next thing that they think will work, she said.
But no matter the subject matter of the call, she said, scam calls will often have the same red flags, they will introduce a time crunch and will attempt to isolate you or prevent you from speaking to other people.
“You’re the one with the access to your money, you don’t owe anybody anything, even if it’s a family member. You may want to help them, and maybe you should help them, but you owe it to yourself and that person first to make sure that what’s happening is legitimate,” Iafolla said.
“There’s nothing wrong with verifying, calling up and making sure, independently, figuring out the circumstances are what they are.”
Roof blown off Mercedes-Benz dealership in Regent Park, police urge caution in the area – CP24
Part of the roof of the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Regent Park has blown off and landed on a nearby roadway, according to Toronto police.
The dealership is on the southwest corner of Dundas Street East and Bayview Avenue, near the Don River and Don Valley Parkway.
Police say it happened just after 11:30 a.m. and are urging drivers and pedestrians to use caution in the area and consider using alternate routes.
Dundas Street East is closed in the area in both directions, as is the southbound lane of Bayview Avenue.
Police say all Don Valley Parkway on-ramps remain open.
It’s unclear what exactly caused the dealership’s roof to become detached, however a special weather statement remains in effect for Toronto due to rain and high winds gusting at up to 80 km/h.
Windsor-Essex brewers lament impact of looming 6.3% alcohol tax
Chapter Two Brewing Company in Windsor is celebrating a milestone this weekend.
“Five years! We’re pretty pumped that we got this far and we’re still going strong,” said brewery co-owner and general manager, Cheryl Watson. “It’s good news, I mean, we’ve gone through a lot.”
From the impact of lockdowns during the pandemic to recent inflationary pressures and wage increases, Watson notes the cost of doing business has been steep.
And that anniversary celebration will clouded by a looming alcohol excise tax increase on all alcohol producers.
“I think everything is just, it’s been unpredictable for suppliers and buyers alike,” Watson said. “We have to look at and figure out what part of it you’re going to cover and what part of it you’re going to ask your customer to cover.”
That question will get harder on April 1 when the 6.3 per cent federal excise tax goes into effect on beer, wine and spirits producers.
Taxes already make up 50 per cent of the cost of beer, 65 per cent of the cost of wine and 75 per cent spirits, according to the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
“The screws are tightening and we don’t have as many places to play anymore,” said Watson.
The increase on the table is triple the usual jump — a number tied directly to inflation — and has alcohol manufacturers wondering who is going to pick up the tab.
“You’re going to see probably a six to 10 per cent increase on the price of your beer,” said Shane Meloche, the owner of Frank Brewing Company in Windsor. He’s weathered the storm that is the past few years in the hospitality industry and doesn’t want to raise prices but worries this time, he may have no choice.
“We’re here to make money. We’ve got 20 to 30 people that work here. We need to stay in business,” Meloche said. “We want to keep everybody employed. So the only way to do that is to pass along that price to the consumer.”
Restaurants who sell alcohol will also feel the effects. A recent Restaurants Canada survey found about half of Canadian restaurants are operating just at or below profitability levels, noting the tax increase will cost Canada’s food-service industry about $750 million a year.
“Their profit margins are very slim. And then when you have a six per cent increase, it’s slimmer,” said Paul Boots, who along with business partner John Conlon launched Suds Runner just a few months back.
It’s a licensed manufacturing representative retailer for nine different Breweries in Ontario where customers can go online and order flights of beer from them that you can’t get at the LCBO or Beer Store — and they bring it to your door.
They started the venture to support local breweries and give their less popular brews more exposure for customers who can’t make it out to craft breweries as often as they’d like.
They hope the increase doesn’t crush their suppliers, customers, or them.
“It’s important, I think, for people to understand that if the price is going up a little bit, it’s not because they’re making more money,” said Conlon.
“They’re just trying to work, trying to make it work.”
Shares in Deutsche Bank drop as global banking worries persist – Al Jazeera English
Tumbling stocks dragged down other major banks across Europe, fuelling fears about a banking sector crisis.
Shares in Deutsche Bank have fallen sharply, dragging down other major European banks and reigniting fears about a widening banking sector crisis.
Germany’s biggest lender dropped more than 14 percent on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange in Friday morning trading before clawing back ground in the afternoon to trade 9.5 percent lower, at 8.43 euros ($9.07) a share.
Tumbling bank stocks dragged down markets across Europe on Friday with Germany’s Commerzbank down 7.5 percent, France’s Societe Generale off 5.9 percent and Austria’s Raiffaisen down 5.9 percent.
Deutsche Bank is one of 30 banks considered globally significant financial institutions, so international rules require it to hold higher levels of capital reserves because its failure could cause widespread losses.
The long-troubled bank has become the focus of investor concerns after the collapse of three regional US lenders and the Swiss government-brokered takeover of Credit Suisse by rival UBS triggered market turmoil this month.
The cost of insuring the bank’s debt against a risk of defaulting, known as credit default swaps, has surged as investors fret about the banking sector’s health.
Rising costs on insuring debt were a prelude to Credit Suisse‘s rescue by UBS. That hastily arranged takeover on Sunday and jitters about Credit Suisse’s long-running troubles led its shares to tank and customers to pull out their money.
Asked whether Deutsche Bank could be the next Credit Suisse, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said, “There is no reason to be concerned.”
Scholz expressed confidence in Deutsche Bank, saying it had “modernised and organised the way it works. It’s a very profitable bank.”
Speaking in Brussels after a summit of EU leaders, he also said the European banking system was “stable” with strict rules and regulations.
Deutsche Bank said on Friday that it would redeem $1.5bn in tier 2 bonds early. Such a move is normally aimed at boosting confidence in a bank although its shares plunged regardless.
The bank was hit by a string of problems linked to its attempts before the 2008 global financial crisis to compete with Wall Street investment banking giants.
But it launched a major restructuring, which involved thousands of job cuts and a greater focus on Europe, and has returned to financial health. Last year, it booked its highest annual profit since 2007.
European officials said banks in the European Union’s regulatory system, which does not include Credit Suisse, are resilient and have no direct exposure to the failed California-based Silicon Valley Bank and little to Credit Suisse.
Efforts to strengthen banking regulation in recent years “puts us all in a position to say that European banking supervision and the financial system are robust and stable and that we have resilient capitalisation of European banks”, Scholz said.
European leaders, who played down any risk of a possible banking crisis at their summit on Friday, said the financial system is in good shape because they require broad adherence to tougher requirements to keep ready cash on hand to cover deposits.
International negotiators agreed to those rules after the 2008 financial crisis, triggered by the failure of US investment bank Lehman Brothers. US regulators exempted midsized banks, including Silicon Valley Bank, from those safeguards.
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