Detective presents fraud prevention advice to Rotary

Edmonton Police Service Economic Crime Unit Detective Bill Allen was the guest speaker at the Rotary breakfast meeting held Wednesday morning. Allen spoke on fraud as part of Fraud Prevention Month. – Lucie Roy Photo

by Lucie Roy

Big promises and no return was the message from Edmonton Police Service Economic Crime Unit Detective Bill Allen, the Rotary guest speaker Mar. 2.

Allen, who was doing a Fraud Prevention Month presentation, said he does about 70 presentations a year, 50 of those to seniors.

“The message is that fraudsters out there will promise you everything and give you nothing in return,” Allen said, adding seniors often fall victim to fraud.

He said although seniors may be reluctant to ask questions, he encourages them to do so because they may not see themselves being deceived.

Allen told the story of one senior who lost $175,000 on a computer virus scam. The detective has even had victims see him as the bad guy, someone interfering with the victim’s promised refund.

The fraud expert also covered data mining on Facebook with all the information people post, identity theft and PIN changes, PIN pad skimming, shredding and carrying unnecessary documents in your wallet, including Social Insurance Number card, passport and birth certificate.

“It is about pre-planning [to] be a little more diligent about what you are carrying and being cognizant,” Allen said. “Go through that wallet and clean some out of it.”

Allen said if banks attached a photo of the account holder to the account they would see a drop in a lot of the things that happen with banks, especially in counterfeit cheques.

RFID tap-and-go is another area of fraud he cautions people to be aware of. Each card is worth about $400, and when stolen, criminals do not need the PIN. It can be used four times before it needs to be physically inserted into a PIN pad.

Debit card losses were $142 million in 2012, two-and-a-half years into chip technology. With chip cards fully implemented, last year’s losses were $8 million.

Allen said cash is king. While polymer notes are not the most secure currency in the world, it has greatly reduced counterfeiting.

It has reduced counterfeit [bills] down to one piece per million, so one counterfeit polymer passed for every million polymer note produced,” he said. “And we were at 400 [per million] in 2005.”

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