Mass-marketing fraud (MMF) is a crime that capitalizes on low or no-cost mass-marketing tools with a goal of defrauding the victims with a promise, story or threat. Telemarketing fraud as a subset of MMF, and uses phone calls to achieve the same purpose.
Why is mass-marketing fraud a growing concern?
The advance of communication technology has changed the criminal landscape, allowing for ways to achieve cross-continent communication easily. This was not possible in the ‘80s and early ‘90s, as access to mass-marketing tools were only available to reputable organizations and governments.
Criminals can now scheme thousands of victims with similar demographic characteristics. This enables the criminal to create enterprise-level operations which explains increasingly sophisticated mass-marketing frauds.
Whether it is a video or voice call, text messages via chat applications, advertisement online, a listing on a marketplace or even a private message from a fellow gamer on a reputable gaming platform who you never met, criminals have become increasingly creative in terms of communicating the promise, story or threat to the targeted victim.
The advance in payment technologies creates a further advantage to criminals as the cost and convenience for cross-border transfers has been enhanced significantly over the past several years. With anonymity added, the risk for criminals is further reduced, which implies a higher victimization rate for the public.
MMF is arguably the most encountered crime by a typical Calgary resident.
Types of mass-marketing fraud
MMF is not a single crime type. It represents a category of crimes that are enabled through mass-marketing tools. Crimes can include romance scams, weight-loss schemes, employment frauds, to more sophisticated corporate phishing and ransomware.
What to do if you are a victim of telemarketing or mass-marketing fraud?
If you have been the victim with monetary or non-monetary losses (e.g. identity), call the Calgary Police Service non-emergency number at 403-266-1234 to report the crime.
If you are not a victim but know of a potential fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre toll-free at 1-888-495-8501.
If you receive a suspicious phone call that you think may be a scam, hang up immediately. Do not give out any information or money and contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre to report your suspicions.
More information on phone fraud and scams is available through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website.
Don't be a victim of phone fraud
These tips will help keep you from getting victimized by telemarketing and mass-marketing frauds:
- Government or law-enforcement would not ask for prepaid gift cards or cryptocurrencies.
- Funds sent to fraudsters through banking systems (wire transfer, cheque) can take up to three business days for fund clearance, so there is a possibility to reverse the funds if the bank is notified quickly.
- Funds sent to fraudsters through major brands of credit cards may be repudiated in 120 days if the company is notified quickly.
- Unsolicited phone calls from the same prefix as yours (403-787-XXXX) is likely a scam.
- Unsolicited phone calls from a CPS prefix (403-200-XXXX or 403-428-XXXX) is likely a scam.
- Overly exciting promotion or investment opportunity that requires a decision over the phone is likely a fraud.
- Do no disclose personal or financial information.