Calgary, AB,

Calgary Police Service sees increase bank fraud scams

The Calgary Police Service is warning citizens to be mindful of a reoccurring trend of suspicious phone calls from scammers posing as bank officials.

While this kind of scam has been seen before, the new twist relies on old technology. Scammers hope to catch a potential victim on a landline, rather than a cell phone. Landlines allow for a phone call connection to remain live even if one person hangs up, whereas cell phone connections are immediately terminated if one person ends the call.

Here’s how the scam works:
A person answers a call from a scammer who tries to convince them that their help is needed in identifying fraudulent activity on their account.

While on the line with the victim, the scammer instructs them to make purchases using their debit or credit card, usually of gift cards, to help the “bank” determine which activity on the account is “genuine” and which is “fraudulent.”If the victim challenges the scammer or questions the validity of the call, the scammer may ask the victim to look on the back of their bank card for a phone number, which is a customer service number for the credit or debit card company.

The victim is told to hang up and immediately call that number. On landlines, if one party doesn’t hang up, the connection doesn’t terminate. This feature is the twist to the scam that fraudsters are relying on, as landlines allow the scammer to remain on the line and listen to the victim dial the number. The scammer “answers” as the bank or as the “account investigator.”

From there, the scammer will try to obtain personal and financial information from the victim as part of the phony investigation. Other versions of this scam have also reported fraudsters posing as police investigators.

By the numbers:

In 2018, CPS saw a 60 per cent increase in the amount of money lost from these kinds of scams in 2017, with a reported loss of more than $640,000. So far in 2019, there have been 17 reported cases of bank fraud phone scams resulting in a loss of more than $73,000.


Number of reported incidents

Reported loss







2019 (Jan. – June)



The Calgary Police Service would like to remind citizens that:

  • A legitimate financial institution will never call a person and seek their assistance in conducting an investigation, especially if the “investigator” requires the victim to make a purchase at the direction of the caller.
  • Ensure the phone line has truly gone dead and wait for a dial tone before calling a verified phone number, especially if directed by an unidentified caller.
  • Be cautious of what information you provide to a caller. A scammer will often prompt you to provide them with information and then use that information later in the call to appear legitimate. Never give out personal information to people you don’t know and trust.
  • If in doubt, if something doesn’t seem right or if the caller is pushing you to do something, hang up and speak with a trusted friend, family member or co-worker before doing anything. An objective perspective will often shed light on fraudulent activity.
  • Gift cards will never be used by a legitimate business as a method of payment.
  • No legitimate business will request you to send cash by mail.