Edmonton, Alberta – As part of Fraud Prevention Month, the Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is highlighting a recent investigation into an identity theft and counterfeiting operation that involved the seizure of a large quantity of materials and the arrest of four individuals.
“Identity theft involves stealing someone’s personal or financial information, and using it to commit further crimes such as fraud or theft,” says Det. Linda Herzceg with EPS Economic Crimes. “All frauds are based on identity theft, so if we protect our personal and financial information today, we can protect ourselves from becoming victims of costly frauds tomorrow.”
In early 2017, EPS Northeast Division Special Projects Team began investigating reports that the residents of a house in the area of 121 Avenue and 59 Street were involved in an alleged counterfeiting operation.
On the morning of Feb. 28, 2017, officers observed one resident drive away from the house in a stolen Ford F350, and three other residents drive away in a Ford Escape with a stolen validation tag. Officers conducted high-risk vehicle stops on both vehicles and arrested the residents.
- Stolen identification including driver’s licences, passports, birth certificates, social insurance number cards, healthcare cards, credit cards, bank cards, and assorted membership cards. On two of the driver’s licences the photographs were altered / removed to create new fake identification.
- Stolen mail, cheques, money orders, and vehicle access codes.
- Counterfeit manufacturing materials including printers and scanners, a laptop, external hard drives and memory sticks, and a debit terminal.
- Counterfeit $20 and $50 American dollar bills, as well as $5, $10 and $20 dollar Canadian bills, printed on sheets of paper.
- Four undocumented and unsecured rifles with ammunition.
Patsy Brown, 45; Chayenne Cardinal, 22; James Gibb, 36; and Douglas Herman, 59; have been charged in connection with the file. Additional charges are pending as police continue to investigate and follow up with victims.
“It’s quite a significant seizure, it’s not common to recover this amount of stolen identity documents and counterfeit materials in one place,” says Const. Benjamin Davis with EPS Northeast Division. “We believe there may be over 100 victims of identity theft connected to this file, but by removing these stolen identities from the street, we’re stopping any future frauds to individuals or businesses.”
Frauds such as identity theft and counterfeiting are on the rise in Edmonton. From 2015 to 2016, identity theft rose 71 percent from 52 to 89 reports, identity fraud rose 48 per cent from 280 to 413 reports, and counterfeiting rose 169 per cent from 141 to 379 reports.
Det. Linda Herzceg adds, “Fraudsters can use your stolen or reproduced information to make purchases, obtain services or benefits, access or open bank and credit accounts, or hide their criminal activities. Once your identity is compromised, it takes tremendous effort to restore your good name or credit rating.”
- Be wary of unsolicited emails, phone calls or mail asking for personal or financial information.
- Reduce the number of identification, debit / credit, and membership cards you carry on yourself. Cancel cards that are no longer used and report stolen ones.
- Change your PIN and passwords on a regular basis.
- Watch that your credit / debit card is not ‘skimmed’ in a restaurant, bar or business.
- Never leave your mobile phone, tablet, laptop or computer unattended, and secure your wallet / purse to prevent theft.
- Obtain a credit report once a year for free through the two credit bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion.
- Monitor your mail delivery, and follow up on missing statements or unfamiliar transactions. Report lost or stolen mail immediately to Canada Post at 1-866-607-6301.
- Shred outdated tax returns and unwanted documents, or store them in a secure place.
If you suspect that you are the victim of identity theft or fraud, report it to police immediately. You may need to contact your bank or credit card company, and place a fraud alert on your credit reports through Equifax at 1-800-465-7166 and TransUnion at 1-877-525-3823. Frauds should also be reported to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Additional identity theft and fraud prevention resources are available to the public from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, RCMP, EPS, Service Alberta, Competition Bureau, and Scam Detector.
If you have any information regarding this investigation, have knowledge of an economic crime, or are the victim of a fraud, please contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone. Anonymous information can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or at www.tipsubmit.com/start.htm.
Edmonton Police Service
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