Calgary, AB,

Police warning local businesses about purchasing scam

The Calgary Police Service is warning Calgarians about a purchasing order scam targeting local businesses.

The scam, which has been prevalent throughout the United States for the last year, is now crossing the border and impacting local businesses. Ten businesses in the Calgary area have reported being targeted by this scam and have lost approximately $100,000, this year.

In the scam, fraudsters pretend to work for reputable post-secondary institutions and contact businesses under the guise of placing an order for a product that business sells. After speaking with the company or receiving a quote for the products, the scammers send the business a fraudulent purchase order, which has been made to look like a legitimate purchase order from the post-secondary institution. The items are then shipped to a local address, not associated to a post-secondary institution, and the business does not get paid. By the time the business realizes it’s a scam, the product has been shipped to a new location, and the business is unable to recover their merchandise.

Scammers are using real employee names and details from local Calgary post-secondary institutions to make this scam seem more legitimate. They are also spoofing email addresses and domain names to make it seem like the communications are coming from an official source.

Fraudsters are typically attempting to order $50,000 to $100,000 worth of items on credit in each instance.

An example of this fraudulent email is available on The City of Calgary Newsroom.

Business owners are encouraged to educate their employees on this scam and how to ensure they are dealing with legitimate representatives of the companies they are doing business with. Here are some tips that businesses can use:

  • Always check email addresses to ensure they are authentic. Scammers will often use domain names that are very similar to a legitimate company’s email address, but are not an exact match. For example a legitimate email address may be, and a scammer trying to pose as that person may use the email
  • Hover your mouse over links and email addresses to check where the link truly directs to. If the URL/email address doesn’t match, or seems suspicious, don’t click on it.
  • Look for poor grammar, spelling mistakes, or language that seems inconsistent with how someone in that job would speak.
  • Be suspicious of high pressure tactics such as needing orders completed quickly and persistent contact looking for updates.
  • Update your email security settings and your computer’s antivirus software.
  • If you are suspicious about a business transaction, contact the company directly through a method you know to be accurate to confirm the information.

Anyone who has suffered a loss as a result of this scam should call the Calgary Police Service non-emergency number at 403-266-1234. Citizens can report scam emails where they have not lost money to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre through their website.