Police warning – beware of extortion and cartel internet scams

The Criminal Investigation Units have seen an increase in reported Extortion and Cartel type Internet scams and are warning everyone to beware. The Ottawa Police receives hundreds of public complaints about internet fraud each year and would like to remind Ottawa residents to be vigilant when using the Internet and social media platforms. 

Persons you are conversing with online may be falsely representing themselves. 

Since the beginning of the year, Ottawa Police have received over 80 Extortion and Cartel type internet scams reports

An Extortion scam involves the exchange of compromising photos (e.g. nudes) or personal information, after which the involved fraudster requires the victim to pay money or these will be distributed publicly.  

A Cartel scam involves sending a message to a potential victim demanding money or threatening harm to their families from a Cartel. 

Fraudsters obtain lists of email addresses and phone numbers before sending thousands of “phishing” messages hoping for replies. They then try to set the “hook” with their various narratives to separate you from your money. They prey on emotions and fear. They use a variety of software programs hiding their true identity and may not even reside in Canada thus making it extremely challenging for police to properly investigate, identify suspects and solve these crimes. 

Here are some safety tips:

  • Make sure security features are updated on electronic devices and that social media accounts are privatized.
  • Ensure you personally know the person you are dealing with on the internet/social media.
  • Do not provide financial, personal information or compromising photos to someone over the internet/social media.
  • Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails/text.
  • Don’t send a money deposit when buying items before receiving them.
  • If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Some warning signs include an item being sold for less than it is worth, an unprecedented return on investment or making purchase or renting from other provinces with item/location unseen. You can learn more about common scams, what to look for and how to avoid them at ottawapolice.ca.


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