City of Prince George lost $700K in sophisticated computer-based fraud

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Prince George (November 13, 2020) – The City of Prince George has become the victim of a sophisticated computer-based fraud. The city lost $700,000 in two transactions while trying to pay a contractor. The RCMP announced that they could recover most of one payment but $375,000 are still lost. Cpl. Craig Douglas said that there are no indications that the city was hacked or that personal information was compromised.

The City of Prince George lost $700,000 in a sophisticated computer-based fraud, according to a press release issued by the Prince George RCMP.

City victim of sophisticated computer-based fraud

Early September, the Prince George RCMP received a complaint of significant fraud from the City of Prince George. City staff reported that two payments to a contractor of over $700,000 in total had been fraudulently redirected and were never received by the contractor.

As a result of the investigation, officers were able to recoup most of one payment in cooperation with financial institutions. However, approximately $375,000 remains lost. The Mounties said that officers are following multiple leads and are working with international partners to identify the person or persons responsible for this sophisticated computer-based fraud. They did not disclose any further details on how the payments were redirected.

‘Our first concern was to determine the extent of the fraud and who was affected,’ said Cpl. Craig Douglass, spokesperson for the Prince George RCMP. ‘There are no indications that the City of Prince George was hacked or that personal information was compromised.’

Not an isolated case

The Prince George RCMP wrote in their press release that they are aware of recent, similar frauds being committed in the community and elsewhere in Canada. Investigators want to remind other governments, businesses, and individuals to be mindful of computer-based frauds, and offered the following tips:

  • Be on the lookout for invoices that use the name of legitimate companies. Scammers will use real company names to make the invoices seem authentic. Make sure you inspect invoices thoroughly before you make a payment;
  • Be extra cautious of vendors that suddenly change the method that they accept payments;
  • Compile a list of companies your business uses to help employees know which contacts are real and which are not;
  • Always verify that the organization you are dealing with is legitimate before you take any other action;
  • Carefully verify email addresses and web domain names for any online payments.

For more information or to report a fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or www.antifraudcentre.ca.

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