March 11, 2020

Fraud Protection Agencies Offer Free Coffee and Invaluable Advice

Winnipeg –
For the second time in two years, the province’s foremost fraud fighters are making time to meet with Manitobans one-on-one for coffee and conversation about scammers, swindlers, and con artists.

The Manitoba Financial Services Agency (MFSA), the Winnipeg Police Service’s Financial Crime Unit, the Consumer Protection Office (CPO), Credit Union Central of Manitoba (CUCM), and the Better Business Bureau of Manitoba and NW Ontario (BBB) are partnering once again for their second annual Fraud Café event at two of Winnipeg’s busiest shopping centres.

On March 18 and 25, Winnipeg Police constables, MFSA, BBB, CUCM, and CPO staff will be on hand at Kildonan Place and St. Vital Centre to answer Manitoban’s questions on fraud, and to educate on how to recognize it, reject it, and report it.

Visitors are welcome to enjoy a free coffee and a snack, chat with one of the subject matter experts to learn more about protecting themselves and their loved ones from fraud, or to share their own experiences dealing with scammers. The first Fraud Café event in 2019 attracted over 250 people throughout the day for unbiased tips and advice from industry and law enforcement professionals.

“We had a great turnout in our first year, which was due in part to the number of experts we had on hand to answer questions,” says Jason Roy, MFSA Senior Investigator. “It’s not hard to lure people over with free coffee—but we really took pride in being able to assist people from all walks of life, some who had very serious matters they needed guidance on. Statistically, fraud is a very under-reported crime, but this kind of atmosphere makes it easier and more comfortable for people to ask questions and share their own experiences.”

While new trends in fraud are constantly cropping up, some scams just refuse to go away because ordinary people continue to fall for them. A lack of awareness and understanding of how frauds work is generally to blame.

“This year we want to take a deeper-dive into some of the most common forms of fraud our respective agencies are seeing,” says Roy.
“For example, MFSA continues to see Manitobans victimized by Offshore Investment scams. A fraudster will promise a high return on an investment in another country, and suggest it will help you avoid taxes—this is all just an enticement though, as once you’ve sent your money to another country and it’s in someone else’s control, you will probably never see it again.”

The Better Business Bureau has seen an uptick in Subscription Scams.

“Consumers are tricked into signing up for products and services under the guise of offering ‘free’ or ‘low-cost’ trials,” says Len Andrusiak, President & CEO, Better Business Bureau Manitoba and NW Ontario. “It could be weight loss pills, health foods, cosmetics, etc. Once you provide credit card information, you can be locked into a monthly subscription that’s difficult, if not almost impossible, to stop.”

The Winnipeg Police Service Financial Crime Unit wants to shed more light on so-called ‘Romance Scams.’

“The fraudster finds the victim via social networking or a dating site,” says Constable Mike Streilein. “They develop the relationship over a long period of time to gain trust, then manipulate the victim into sending money to help with an ‘unexpected issue.’ We’ve seen a number of heartbroken people who’ve lost a considerable amount of money to these scams.”

Although ‘Phishing’ emails have been around for a number of years, The Consumer Protection Office says that many people still do not see the red flags.

A phishing email can appear almost identical to an email from a legitimate company or a bank you deal with regularly. These emails are designed to capture sensitive information based on the target’s response. Depending on the extent of personal information captured, fraudsters can use your information to make purchases, transfer funds, apply for loans or credit cards, or access other personal accounts.  

The Fraud Café takes place on Wednesday, March 18 at Kildonan Place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Wednesday, March 25 at St. Vital Centre from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The Manitoba Financial Services Agency is a Special Operating Agency of the Government of Manitoba. Through its two divisions, The Manitoba Securities Commission (MSC) and Financial Institutions Regulation Branch (FIRB), the MFSA regulates securities, real estate, cooperatives, credit unions, and insurance in the province.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. BBB Business Reviews are available for free at BBB Serving Manitoba and NW Ontario, founded in 1930 and is one of 100 local, independent BBBs in the U.S., Canada and Mexico. In 2019, consumers turned to BBB Serving Manitoba and NW Ontario for inquires more than 580 thousand times.

CUCM is the trade association and service provider for the province’s 26 autonomous credit unions and is governed by Manitoba’s Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act. CUCM manages liquidity reserves, monitors credit granting procedures and provides trade services in areas such as corporate governance, government relations, representation and advocacy.

The Winnipeg Police Service’s mission is to build safe and healthy communities across Winnipeg through excellence in law enforcement and leadership in crime prevention through social development.

The Consumer Protection Office investigates and mediates consumer complaints. Manitobans are encouraged to learn more about consumer protection issues and their rights under the law. 


Media Inquiries:                      
Jason Booth, Communications Coordinator, MFSA  |  204.945.1660 |