Edmonton… ALERT’s Criminal Intelligence Service Alberta (CISA) has observed a prevalence of gold scams and distraction-type thefts taking place across the province.
CISA, which acts as a central hub for strategic analysis and intelligence sharing on organized crime in Alberta, notes that these types of thefts and frauds are primarily being carried out by highly organized groups traveling across the country.
Since the end of February 2020, there have been 45 reported instances of gold scams or distraction type thefts. The majority of reported instances are clustered in Edmonton and Calgary, but CISA has also noted instances in smaller communities like Drumheller, Medicine Hat, Leduc, and Tsuut’ina Nation.
“We are talking about organized, highly trained professionals who prey on people’s compassion and generosity for a criminal profit. ALERT wants the public to be aware of these types of scams, and also be diligent in reporting so police can catch these perpetrators,” said Supt. Dwayne Lakusta, ALERT Chief Executive Officer.
Albertans reported a financial loss of more than $30,000 as a result of these recent incidents, with seniors being primarily victimized. However, CISA believes these crimes are underreported due to embarrassment on the part of the victims.
Organized groups will often frequent gas stations, grocery stores, or busy roads and will flag down motorists or approach people in parking lots. Typically, they will attempt to sell fake jewelry or gold, or the suspects will touch the victim in some way — such as grabbing their arm or hugging them — and will remove their jewelry or take some other item of value. In a number of occurrences, they have approached victims offering them money they claim the victims dropped and use the close interaction to steal jewelry or money from them.
Scammers will try to gain the sympathy of their victims by stating that they are trying to get back home, need to feed their families, or are having trouble with foreign credit cards.