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EPS investigation identifies purchase order scam targeting PPE and industrial equipment companies across the globe

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EPS investigation identifies purchase order scam targeting PPE and industrial equipment companies across the globe

April 30, 2020
A comprehensive investigation undertaken by the EPS Economic Crimes Section has helped several Canadian and American companies recover more than $1.5M of industrial and personal protective equipment (PPE) fraudulently ordered by suspects with connections to Nigeria.

The online scheme targeting PPE, industrial and electronic equipment companies in Canada, the United States and Australia, has seen the suspects impersonating various commercial companies, including “Clean Harbors”, a large North American environmental, energy and industrial service provider. The suspects would then contact various suppliers using altered emails, the names of associated company executives and illegally obtained credit reference information to fraudulently obtain shipments of various equipment including the highly sought-after N95 masks. The equipment was then shipped to warehouses across Canada and the United States by the suspects, who are believed to be operating from Nigeria and London, UK.

It is alleged that the suspects would then coordinate an online pick-up from a courier company using compromised courier accounts, and have the shipment delivered to England, where it was then moved to companies with exporting connections to Nigeria.

“Many companies around the world are dealing with various challenges right now just trying to financially stay afloat during this pandemic,” stated Det. Jason Lapointe, of the EPS Economic Crimes Section. “Then they find themselves under attack by criminals from abroad that are attempting to fraudulently acquire various equipment, including PPE, destined to help those who are in desperate need of it. It’s unconscionable really.”

In mid-March, ECS investigators received information that a Leduc company had been targeted. The local electronics company had received a purchase order worth approximately $18,000 for two-way radios. The order was initially placed by email through Clean Harbors, a vendor known to the local company through previous business transactions.

It was reported to police that the Leduc equipment company then received a subsequent email supposedly from Clean Harbors requesting that the shipment of two-way radios be re-directed to a location in Calgary. Representatives with the local company became suspicious and contacted Clean Harbors to clarify the situation, which confirmed their suspicions that they were being defrauded by someone impersonating an executive with Clean Harbors. As a result, representatives from the Leduc company were able to stop the shipment from being delivered.

In early April, an Edmonton telecommunications equipment supplier fell victim to this scam after a shipment of equipment worth $170,000 was sent to a storage facility in the UK.  EPS Economic Crimes Section prevented another $130,000 shipment of equipment made by this same Edmonton company from reaching its final destination, after it was located at a shipment center in Ontario

As an example of this scam’s impact on the current COVID-19 crisis, these same suspects placed orders through two Canadian corporations situated in Quebec and B.C. for $100,000 worth of personal respirators and replacement N95 3M filters.  These shipments were located at separate loading facilities, and EPS Economic Crimes Section investigators facilitated the return of these shipments to the respective companies.

The EPS Economic Crimes Section is urging businesses to remain vigilant when dealing with potential clients online.

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Alberta

Suspect in stolen vehicle kills one and seriously injures another in wild chase

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News release from Beaumont RCMP

Beaumont RCMP seeking public assistance in locating suspect in fatal collision

On Feb. 24, 2024, at approximately 9:00 p.m., Beaumont RCMP located a person suspected of theft, in a parked 15-foot cube moving truck, at a business on 50 Street in Beaumont. When members approached the truck and attempted an arrest, one male driver and one female passenger rammed into a police vehicle and fled the scene at a high rate of speed. Patrols were initiated to find the truck and, a short time later, it was observed on 50 Street and Highway 814 in Beaumont at a high rate of speed.

Meanwhile, Edmonton Police Service’s (EPS) Air One Helicopter was notified and provided its location to RCMP members. Multiple surrounding RCMP detachments, including Leduc and Strathcona, responded to assist. As the truck was driving into Edmonton, a tire deflation device was deployed by RCMP, disabling multiple civilian vehicles. Consequently, an adult female exited one of the civilian vehicles and was fatally struck by the suspect truck. The truck failed to stop and continued driving into Edmonton.

The suspect vehicle then collided with another civilian vehicle, leaving an adult male in serious non-life-threatening condition. The truck was located at 50 Street and 22 Avenue in Southwest Edmonton.

Further investigation revealed that the driver of the truck, an adult male, then proceeded to steal a parked 2020 Honda Civic at a nearby convenience store. This vehicle contained a child who was safely recovered and reunited with his family a short time later. The male suspect has yet to be located.

No other members of the public or officers were injured during this incident.

“On behalf of the RCMP, I would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the family members of the victim,” said Superintendent Leanne MacMillian, Assistant Central Alberta District Officer. “This is a devastating incident that will leave a mark on family and friends for years to come. Please understand that you will be in our thoughts as we progress through this investigation.”

In compliance with legislative requirements, the Director of Law Enforcement was immediately notified causing the deployment of ASIRT to conduct an independent investigation. The RCMP believes in accountability and transparency and in so doing will provide full support to the ASIRT investigators and also conduct its own internal review.  Events like this are difficult for the communities in which they occur, as well as the general public and RCMP officers involved. RCMP officers recognize the trust placed in them to use force that is necessary, proportional and reasonable and in so doing remain fully accountable.

The RCMP are actively investigating this occurrence and are seeking the public’s assistance in locating a stolen, dark grey 4-door Honda Civic with Alberta license place E98-099. The vehicle was stolen by a male suspect described as being approximately 5’11’’ and was last seen wearing a black hoodie with white text on the front, brown shorts and black shoes.

If you have any information about this crime or those responsible, you are asked to contact the Beaumont RCMP at 780-929-7400. If you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crime Stoppers by phone at 1‐800‐222‐8477 (TIPS), by Internet at www.tipsubmit.com or by SMS (check your local Crime Stoppers www.crimestoppers.ab.ca for instructions).

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Alberta

Youth worker charged with child luring

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From the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT)

A youth worker has been arrested and charged with child sexual exploitation offences. ALERT is investigating the possibility of additional victims.

ALERT’s Internet Child Exploitation (ICE) unit arrested the 28-year-old suspect on February 2, 2024 with help from the Edmonton Police Service. Abraham Woo was charged with child luring, making child pornography, possession of child pornography, and distributing child pornography.

Woo has also been known to use the aliases Abraham Calling Bear WooAbraham Collingwood, and his Snapchat handle WolfBoy22.

ICE alleges that Woo was involved in luring of at least one child whom he had known previously though his youth work with Pasqua First Nations in southern Saskatchewan. These alleged offences took place over the social media applications Snapchat and Facebook.

The offences were first reported to Saskatchewan ICE in January 2024, and associated to an investigation by Fort Qu’Appelle Saskatchewan RCMP.

ICE’s investigation, which included a forensic examination of computers and electronic devices seized from Woo’s home, has led ICE to believe there may be additional victims. Amongst child sexual abuse materials, ICE identified photos that appear to have been taken in a locker room facility.

ICE is releasing a censored version of these photos in hopes of identifying the location and/or possible child victim.

Woo has worked as a youth worker or had access to children through his employment in both Saskatchewan and Alberta.  ICE believes that Woo worked with children at the following organizations/entities:

  • Pasqua First Nations Education: youth worker and education assistant;
  • Edmonton Bent Arrow Society: lodge keeper;
  • Shadow Dragon Youth Group Home: group home staff member;
  • Leduc Boys and Girls Club: youth programs coordinator; and
  • Pa Metawe Games: youth camps.

Anyone with information about this offence is asked to contact their local police, or Crime Stoppers at 1-888-222-TIPS (8477).

Woo has released from custody and is scheduled to appear in court on February 28, 2024.

ALERT was established and is funded by the Alberta Government and is a compilation of the province’s most sophisticated law enforcement resources committed to tackling serious and organized crime.

 

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