A retail employee is being credited with saving a woman from financial loss.
Just before noon on Friday, an elderly woman came into a downtown store buying $1,000 worth of Google Play cards. The store's employee then stopped two nearby Winnipeg Police Officers who were on foot patrol in the area just before 11:45 a.m., alerting them of the situation.
"The Winnipeg Police Service reminds the public that no legitimate agency will contact you by phone and ask for payments in this manner or request banking information," the WPS says in a statement.
The senior then handed her phone to one of the officers to speak with the scammer. The officer then identified himself to the person on the phone, giving them his badge number.
On the other end of the call, the scammer replied saying "I don't care who you are; this transaction is between her and me. Put her back on the phone."
The suspect then hung up.
When speaking to the victim, officers learned the suspect told the woman was a tax issue and she was being arrested. They told her to turn over banking information, PINs, to purchase $1,000 in Google Play cards. The suspect told the woman not to tell anyone about the call. If the woman did not comply, the suspect said she would be arrested.
The officers walked the woman to her bank, which was nearby, and talked to the assistant manager about the compromised information.
"The assistant manager noted she was very familiar with the scam and deals with victims daily."
The manager froze the woman's bank account and changed the victim's passwords. Her accounts were not compromised.
Next, the retail employee contacted Google Play to alert them of the situation, securing a refund for the victim.
As March is Fraud Prevention Month, the WPS is hosting several virtual events to raise awareness.
"In 2020, Manitobans lost over $4.4 million through mass-market scams. This includes $1.9 million lost through extortion scams."
The WPS says "we all have a role to play in fraud prevention" and is educating people on what to look for. They say Canada Revenue Agency, Explicit Video, and Ransomeware scams are most common and the scammers will ask for payment in Bitcoin or gift cards.