Alberta RCMP urge caution in light of recent Scams and Distraction Thefts

July 05, 2021

Alberta RCMP, particularly in Western Alberta has seen an increase in reports of victims being approached by individuals in a series of transaction scams and distraction thefts. Since approximately June 7, 2021, the RCMP has seen an increase in this type of crime that has been reported in Fox Creek, Valleyview, Peace River and Grande Prairie, Alberta. The RCMP believe this criminal activity is linked to a travelling organized crime group. Awareness is an important part of crime prevention.

Typically, suspects approach individuals requesting money for gasoline or food in exchange for jewelry and other goods. Suspects often take advantage of victims’ goodwill, claiming they require cash in order to return home or feed their families. Goods sold to victims are later discovered to be lower quality than initially disclosed or are fake. In the past, victims have also reported cases of distraction theft; such instances may involve the suspect making physical contact with the victim through a handshake or a hug while removing valuables from the individual without their knowledge.

The criminal activity conducted by this specific group is known to police, however, suspects are difficult to identify due to their transient lifestyle and often fraudulent identification. The Western Alberta District RCMP warns the public to be cautious of this type of suspicious activity. Protecting Alberta’s rural communities is a collective responsibility. Together, with local RCMP detachments, we create a strong awareness and presence of the law and help reduce crime.

Tips on how to avoid being a victim of this type of crime:

  • Question if the item being offered for sale is genuine. If something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Always ask lots of questions

  • Don’t feel pressured to say yes. Reputable sellers will allow you time to research the item and verify their claims.
  • Keep your physical distance and don’t let unknown people into your home. These offenders are skilled in physical distraction. The closer they get to you, the more likely they are to successfully steal or swap your valuables for fraudulent ones.

  • Report incidents to police by calling the non-emergency number. RCMP encourage the public to report any criminal or suspicious activity to the police. Reports tell the RCMP where to look, who to look for, and where to patrol in the future.If you see a crime in progress, dial 911. If you wish to remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), online at www.P3Tips.com or by using the “P3 Tips” app available through the Apple App or Google Play Store.


Friendly Reminders

Report crime online!
The RCMP are encouraging all Albertans to report eligible crimes online (select property crimes under $5,000). Reporting less serious crimes online helps emergency dispatch and frontline members focus their time on high-priority calls. It provides a convenient way to share photos to the RCMP as well. These reports assist in crime analysis, aid in establishing trends and patterns, and ultimately leads investigators to the chronic offenders. It also assists in making decisions about how and where to deploy resources. Crimes reported online will be taken just as seriously as crime reported in any other way.  

Help reduce crime, report online! #ReportSmart

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