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Scam calls in Canada: RCMP seeing big increase

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Citing a “significant increase” in fraudulent activity in Canada in the last two years— the majority of which in the last year has been happening online—the RCMP is calling on Canadians to be aware of scammers’ tactics.

Speaking to MPs on the House of Commons Industry and Technology Committee on Monday, during a hearing on the prevalence of fraudulent calls in Canada, RCMP Director General for National Cybercrime Coordination Unit Chris Lynam said that since 2020, officials have seen this marked increase in scams, including through email and social media.

“Part of the challenge… is that you’re dealing with very highly adaptive people, and they’re criminals. So they can very easily pivot to adopt the newest technique… For example, they will watch what’s happening in terms of an incident or a government-type rebate, and very quickly they’ll be able to figure out how to go and put that scam pitch out to Canadians,” Lynam said. “We now think over 70 per cent of the activity is cyber-enabled.”

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAC) so far this year, there have been 61,305 reports of fraud, 38,812 victims of fraud, and $332.7 million lost to fraud in Canada, as of the end of August. These figures include online scams as well as fraudulent calls.

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In all of 2021 the CAC received 107,139 reports of fraud, targeting 68,061 victims, and resulting in $383 million lost. Lynam said that the 2021 figures were a 130 per cent increase from 2020.

“Oftentimes, we’re dealing with thousands of victims, multiple policing jurisdictions, cybercrime, infrastructure, and digital evidence in foreign countries,” he said. “At the same time, CAC estimates that only five to 10 per cent of victim victims actually report fraud to law enforcement,” he said.

Calling fraud an “omnipresent challenge,” the lead for the RCMP’s cybercrime unit said arrests aren’t the only way to tackle the issue, citing prevention and awareness-building as other necessary tools.

Noting October is Cyber Security Awareness month, Lynam said it’s important for Canadians to “be aware of what’s happening out there,” pointing to federal initiatives undetaken, including outreach to seniors and an online reporting mechanism that’s in the process of being updated.

The committee voted last month to renew its look at fraud in Canada—hearing both from federal officials as well as stakeholders on the latest developments—in follow up to a previous study and report from 2020 that called for the government to be more transparent and proactive about fraudsters targeting Canadians.

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Conservatives are ‘fearmongering’ over assault-style gun ban: public safety minister

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OTTAWA — Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino accuses the Conservatives of “whipping up fear” that the Liberal government is outlawing ordinary long guns and hunting rifles.

In an interview, Mendicino says the government only wants to reinforce a regulatory ban on assault-style firearms like the AR-15 by enshrining a definition in legislation, and it is prepared to work with MPs to get it right.

He insists the government has no intention whatsoever of going after everyday long guns and hunting rifles, calling the notion “Conservative fearmongering.”

In May 2020, the Liberal government announced a ban through order-in-council on over 1,500 models and variants of what it considers assault-style firearms, such as the AR-15 and the Ruger Mini-14.

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The Liberals recently proposed including an evergreen definition of a prohibited assault-style firearm in gun-control legislation being studied by a House of Commons committee.

The Conservatives claim the government’s amendment amounts to the most significant hunting rifle ban in the history of Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

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Joly seeks reprimand of Russian ambassador as embassy tweets against LGBTQ community

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OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly has asked her department to summon Russia’s ambassador over social media postings against LGBTQ people.

In recent days, Russia’s embassy in Ottawa has posted on Twitter and Telegram that the West is imposing on Russia’s family values, and arguing that families can only involve a man, a woman and children.

The embassy has posted images of a crossed-out rainbow flag and Orthodox icons of Adam and Eve.

The tweets came as Russia expanded a ban on exposing children to so-called homosexual propaganda, meaning authorities can now prosecute Russians for doing things they argue might entice adults to be gay or transgender.

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Joly’s office says the posts amount to “hateful propaganda” that must be called out and “an attack on the Canadian values of acceptance and tolerance.”

If Global Affairs Canada follows Joly’s request, it will be the third time the department has summoned ambassador Oleg Stepanov this year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

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Work hard and never give up, Michelle O’Bonsawin says during Supreme Court welcome

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OTTAWA — The newest member of the Supreme Court of Canada says her journey has not been an easy one, but it has been meaningful and rewarding.

Members of the legal community and Michelle O’Bonsawin’s fellow judges welcomed her to the bench in a ceremony today.

O’Bonsawin, who replaced the retiring Michael Moldaver on Sept. 1, is a bilingual Franco-Ontarian and an Abenaki member of the Odanak First Nation.

O’Bonsawin says she is a big believer that if a person has a goal, works hard and never gives up, they can achieve their dreams.

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She adds that while she has made mistakes and fallen down, those missteps have been her teacher.

Richard Wagner, the chief justice of Canada, praises O’Bonsawin’s generosity and volunteer activities, noting she shares his passion for open courts, access to justice and education.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 28, 2022.

 

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