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Alberta

Edmonton Police Service is highlighting the risks of finding love online

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The victim of an online romance scam is sharing his story in hopes of preventing more people from being taken advantage of by scammers. Online romance scams are a lucrative business- in 2018, the Edmonton Police Service investigated 11 incidents of romance scams totalling an overall reported loss of $1,115,219.74.

Con was in the hospital when he received a message from a woman who said she had seen his dating profile. He was happy to have the company while he was confined to the hospital bed – even if it was just over the phone.

  

       Sample of images sent to portray the woman’s online profile

She said she was a United States citizen on an overseas contract as a computer civil engineer. She was a single mom; her son was nine-years-old. Eventually, she would say that she “fell in love with a guy from the internet”.

Months into their chats, the requests for money began; she said the camera on her phone was broken but she couldn’t afford to fix it, so she needed $600 to replace it. Con denied her request so she stopped contacting him, but months passed and they started talking again. She asked him for money once again, telling him she was relying on him to get her and her son to the States. So he gave what he could towards a new phone- $100. It wasn’t enough, so she stopped talking to him.

Nearly a year later, she asked him if he still loved her; the continued to talk for a couple of weeks and then she told him she was laid off and needed help. He told her to go to the U.S. Embassy for help, but she admitted that it was an illegal work contract. She needed to get home, but she didn’t have enough; she was a mere $1500 short.

The next day, ticket prices went up. He paid the difference. And then her son was diagnosed with malaria. Shortly after, they were in a collision and had hospital bills – she even sent x-rays. But she had money back home; she just needed help paying the hospital bills in order to be released from the hospital. Once she got home she would be able to pay him back. She even “proved” her financial state by sending a picture of her bank accounts in the U.S.A; she just couldn’t access them while overseas.

Sadly, Con’s dream of having a family was used against him by fraudsters. When one of his banks interfered and the Edmonton Police Service investigated his case, this romance scam came to $143,000.

When asked why he sent the money, he pauses… “Hope that it would be real. Having her and her kid. Money isn’t important. This is; having someone else in the house besides me.”

Protect Yourself 

It is important to remember that romance scammers do this for a living – it’s their job and it can be very profitable.

“It’s absolutely heartbreaking that these scammers are taking someone’s desire for happiness and using it against them,” Detective Linda Herczeg stated. “They commit all of their time into these scams because it’s their job and it’s lucrative.”

Websites and apps are constantly used for matchmaking, friendship building, and networking, but users should be aware of the potential risks.

Signs that a social media or dating profile user is a scammer

  • They ask you for money.
  • They profile you and tell you everything you want to hear.
  • They will find out what you are looking for in a relationship and create events that will play on your emotional to get you to send money – sick children, airline tickets to come be with you/marry you so you can be a family.
  • They groom you for as long as it takes (days, months, years) to get your money by being very attentive, lavishing you with attention, compliments and tell you that they love you. Usually they profess their love early in the relationship.
  • They are always available because it is usually a group of individuals that are sending you messages, working off a script.
  • The images of your “loved one” will be stolen off the internet.
  • Your “loved one” will rarely have a voice conversation with you or have a live conversation via FaceTime or Skype.
  • Your “loved one” will always have an excuse why they cannot meet you.
  • They will always find a reason for you to send them more money.

You can find more information on online scams and online dating safety tips on the EPS website.

The EPS reminds citizens that fraud prevention is continuous – we need to recognize it through continual education, report it, and stop it. We ask that you share this information with those in your life who may be a target for romance scams.

If you are a victim of any fraud in Edmonton, please contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile device. In other jurisdictions, contact the local RCMP.

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Alberta

Alberta First Nation monitors hundreds for COVID-19 as it announces curfew

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SIKSIKA NATION, Alta. — A First Nation in southern Alberta has implemented a curfew as its health workers monitor more than 200 people for signs they may have developed COVID-19.

Siksika Nation Chief Ouray Crowfoot said in video messages posted on Facebook that as of Thursday there were 21 known COVID-19 positive cases with links to the community west of Calgary, and that five separate and unrelated case clusters had been uncovered in the previous 12 days.

Crowfoot said that as of Wednesday, 258 Siksika Nation members were under “active investigation and daily followup” by the community’s health services team — a number he said had quadrupled in only three days.

On Friday, councillors approved a temporary curfew from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. local time, with exceptions that Crowfoot said can be made on an as-needed basis for work or other reasons.

Crowfoot encouraged Siksika Nation members to co-operate with health officials if they call, and to avoid non-essential travel to nearby cities. 

He said the risk of community transmission is high and that each new case cluster makes it even harder to contact trace and isolate people fast enough.

“We realize you have freedom of choice but we don’t have freedom of consequence. If we choose not to follow these guidelines, the consequence may be that we contract the virus and spread the virus further through our community,” Crowfoot warned in a video message posted Thursday.

In a message posted Friday, Crowfoot said his community had met meeting with federal Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller and Alberta Indigenous Affairs Minister Rick Wilson to address shortfalls in resources for dealing with the pandemic.

Crowfoot said the community’s annual Sun Dance ceremony was continuing, but that each participant was being tested prior to entering and that health workers were screening people as they came and went.

“It is understandable that people may feel anxious regarding this current situation, but if we continue to stay vigilant to the public health measures and do our best to limit travel and to avoid gatherings we have a chance to slow down the spread on our nation and also give our health team a chance to do their job,” Crowfoot said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2020

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘You have to show up:’ NDP MP questions virtual attendance of Alberta Tories

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EDMONTON — Alberta’s only non-Conservative member of Parliament says she’s disappointed some of the province’s Tory MPs haven’t been participating in virtual House of Commons special COVID-19 committee meetings.

The Commons, which had largely been adjourned since mid-March to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus, initially only met to pass emergency aid legislation and to come to a new agreement on how the chamber should function.

In late May, the New Democrats joined forces with the governing Liberals to waive normal proceedings for another four months and continue with an expanded version of a special COVID-19 committee that has acted as a stand-in for the chamber.

Both Conservative and Bloc Quebecois MPs voted against the virtual sittings because they wanted more parliamentary oversight.

There have been 14 of the new hybrid sessions since the change at the end of May, but a tally by the NDP shows the average attendance for Conservative members from Alberta was about 42 per cent; the number was confirmed by The Canadian Press through online minutes.

NDP MP Heather McPherson, who represents Edmonton Strathcona, has attended all the online meetings and said she doesn’t understand why other Alberta politicians aren’t participating.

“I’m a little shocked,” she said in an interview this week. “It feels to me like Alberta MPs, more than any MPs in the rest of the country, need to be fighting for Albertans.

“We need all the help we can get.”

Of the 33 Alberta Conservative MPs, none has attended all 14 meetings. About a dozen have attended more than half, and four haven’t participated at all.

Len Webber, who represents the Calgary Confederation riding and is also chairman of the Alberta Conservative caucus, said the attendance numbers were news to him.

“I get on when I can,” he said.

The meeting minutes posted online show Webber attended two of the special COVID-19 meetings early on in the pandemic and hasn’t participated in any since the May 26 change.

Other politicians who haven’t attended any of the last 14 meetings are Calgary Heritage MP Bob Benzen, Edmonton Riverbend MP and health critic Matt Jeneroux and Calgary Signal Hill MP Ron Liepert. 

Webber said it’s not a boycott by the Conservatives. He suggested many members — including himself — are busy with other meetings. He’s on the health committee, for example, and online minutes show that he’s attended all of those meetings.

There are also regular Zoom calls with other members to prepare for meetings and ongoing constituency issues to address, he said.

“There are good reasons why some MPs can’t attend.”

Webber questioned whether the attendance numbers were accurate.

He added that there’s only so many questions that can be asked by MPs at the special COVID-19 committee meetings.

“There are certainly Alberta MPs who ask questions,” he said. “They are there representing their constituents.”

McPherson said the NDP voted to have the hybrid meetings so every member had the opportunity to participate in Parliament and represent their constituents.

“We were able to ask questions,” she said.

A previous restriction that prevented MPs from asking questions on issues other than the pandemic was one of the changes made at the end of May.

McPherson said she has asked about worker safety at the Cargill meat-packing plant in southern Alberta, help for people with disabilities and support for Alberta’s small businesses that weren’t qualifying for government assistance during the pandemic.

She suggested there’s also value in hearing other issues politicians are raising.

McPherson said she’s particularly surprised that some of her fellow Alberta MPs didn’t attend at all, as people across the province are going through a difficult time.

“I’m really happy to work with anyone from any party … but you have to show up,” she said.

McPherson admitted the current system isn’t perfect, but said it’s a good compromise that helps contain the spread of COVID-19 by preventing people from flying to Ottawa from all over Canada for in-person sessions.

“We couldn’t do business as usual.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 4, 2020

Colette Derworiz, The Canadian Press

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