Saskatoon scammed: City hands over $1,004,000 to online fraudster in classic dupe

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The City of Saskatoon has been targeted by an online fraud scheme that resulted in the Saskatchewan city losing $1.04 million.

“This incident is a serious criminal matter, and the City is working hard to recover these funds, minimize the opportunities for this to occur in the future, and to cooperate with the police in this investigation,” Mayor Charlie Clark said in a statement.

According to officials, the scammer “electronically impersonated” an executive at a construction company the city has an existing relationship with, requesting a change in banking information. The City complied and a scheduled payment to the company was redirected to a fraudulent account.

“Our focus at this time is on recovery of the funds. We have experts engaged from our internal auditor, the banks affected, and the Saskatoon Police Service,” city manager Jeff Jorgenson said in a statement.

“Additionally we have external and internal experts pouring over financial transactions and processes to do everything reasonably possible to protect the City from any further attacks.”

This announcement follows Saskatoon Police Service Economic Crime Unit alerting the public of wire fraud scams earlier this week.

According to the city’s police, fraudsters have been targeting human resource and finance departments at various companies, convincing them to change direct deposit information for employees or existing vendors to fraudulent accounts.

“The fraudsters are often communicating through ‘Phishing’ emails,” the police department said in a release. “This is a scam by which an internet user is tricked into revealing personal or confidential information which the scammer can use illicitly. This can be as easy as clicking a link.”

Saskatoon police have asked the public to not respond to any suspicious emails and to obtain verbal or in-person verification from the individuals requesting to change any direct deposit or wire transfer information.