Police warn of purchasing scam that has Calgary businesses in its sights

Calgary police say that business owners in the city need to be on the lookout for a scam that has recently crossed the border to prey on new victims.

In the ploy, fraudsters pose as reputable post-secondary institutions and contact businesses to place an order for items that the business sells.

After interacting with the business owner, the scammers send a fraudulent purchase order, made to look like an actual invoice from the post-secondary school they are pretending to be.

The items are then shipped to a local address not associated with the school and the business never receives payment for those goods.

Before the error is discovered, the product has been shipped elsewhere and the business can’t recover the items.

Police say that 10 Calgary businesses have been targeted by this scam and have lost approximately $100,000.

Officials advise business owners to educate their employees on how to recognize scams like this and make sure their customers are legitimate at all times.

Police advise:

  • Double checking email addresses to make sure they are authentic and the domain name matches the actual business you are working with
  • Hover your mouse over any links included in emails to check the true URL it links to. If it seems suspicious, don’t click on it
  • Be on the lookout for poor grammar, spelling mistakes and other language that seems inconsistent with regular business speech
  • Be suspicious of high pressure sales tactics such as needing orders completed quickly and persistent contact, looking for updates
  • Update email security settings and your computer’s antivirus software
  • If you are suspicious about a transaction, contact the businesses you are dealing with directly through information you can confirm, like from their official website

Anyone who believes they may have fallen victim to a purchasing scam like this should call the Calgary Police Service non-emergency line at 403-266-1234. Citizens can report scam emails they’ve received to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.

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