‘Spot the Scammer’ – Part 2

Post by Det/Sgt. Dave Kozicki, Fraud/Economic Crimes Unit

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When you aren’t sure about a ‘deal’ you’ve been offered, use the tried and tested game show method and ask a friend. It could be a family member, friend or co-worker. Pick someone who isn’t tied up in the excitement of the deal. They will often have a fresh and untainted view of the situation and can quickly notice the ‘spell’ you are under. They haven’t been subjected to the talents of the fraud artist and can see things more clearly than you. Once you get that sober and subjective advice from your friend not to do it, simply don’t do it. Think about what it will feel like when your friend smugly reminds you that they ‘told you so.’

A common tactic for the online sale of a car purports that the seller is overseas and simply wants to ‘get rid’ of their car. Here is a real example; a half-ton truck is online, loaded with options, has low kilometers, is only two years old and the asking price is far below market value. The seller tells you they bought the vehicle in the U.S, moved to Europe and found the truck can’t be licensed because of local crash or emission standards.  They just want to end their headaches by selling the truck quickly. Unfortunately, they can’t be contacted directly because they are employed in military intelligence.

The themes are; a good deal, a quick sale and secrecy. It is a great truck and if you don’t buy it [right now!], someone else will. You are feeling pressure. What will protect you is that feeling of pressure; as long as you learn to associate that feeling with the idea that something might be wrong.

Another scam involves the cashing of cheques. You will be asked to cash a cheque and then send someone a portion of the cheque’s total. Usually the money you are tasked to send involves a money transfer service. After you do it the cheque bounces, the money you sent can’t be recovered and you owe the bank for the entire amount. This scam is dressed up with a phony job offer or the purchase of something you are selling on-line. The whole thing is convoluted and far from the ordinary (and I bet they ‘purchased’ what you were selling at full price). When it became ‘convoluted’ and ‘out of the ordinary’, you should have walked away.

Online auction and classified sites, money transfer services, insurance and other government websites have plenty of advice that you can easily access. Protect yourself by doing some research. It’s better than losing your money because chances are once that money is gone, it’s gone forever. The advice that isn’t always in these websites is to trust your instinct, take your time and talk to someone. Fraud is a growing crime because of the advances in communication technologies and ease with which someone outside your local and national law enforcement agencies can avoid repercussions. What we are all left with is the responsibility and necessity to protect ourselves;

  • You don’t have to act now
  • Talk to a friend
  • Trust your instinct
  • Verify and do your own research

Another thing about debit and credit cards: to protect yourself from someone accessing your funds, keep a close watch on your transactions. Report suspicious transactions to your service providers; maybe it’s a purchase you forgot about but maybe it is an unauthorized purchase. They will be happy to help you so they can avoid a loss as well. Not all fraudulent purchases drain your accounts; they often take out small amounts over long periods of time.

One more way to protect yourself is to do occasional checks on your credit. TransUnion Canada and Equifax are required to provide free credit reports to you by mail. This allows you to see if someone has obtained credit using your identity.

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‘Spot the Scammers’ – Part 1

Post by Det/Sgt. Dave Kozicki, Fraud/Economic Crimes Unit

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Good advice is often contradictory. Rule #1 to avoid a fraud is: ‘If it’s too good to be true it probably is.’ This is great information but what about getting a good deal? Sometimes you really can get a good deal. The trick then is to avoid the fraud but get the good deal. This apparent contradiction and the uncertainty it creates results in people continually being ‘ripped off’ even when they know rule #1.

Like most other things in life, the truth is found in the gray – not the black and white. There are some obvious things to look for like random phone calls and emails telling you that you just won millions of dollars, or your computer is malfunctioning and they need access, or your bank account information needs to be updated. The way to avoid these scams is to first be suspicious and then be willing to verify the claims being made. For example, you get a call from someone who says they’re with your bank and there is some sort of problem. Maybe they are legitimate and maybe they aren’t. Get the person’s name and tell them you will verify matters by phoning the bank yourself. Chances are the fraud will die a quick death right there.

Is your information secure?

Black and white advice is to not to give your Social Insurance Number to anyone you don’t work for, don’t give your credit card number to anyone who contacts you ‘out of the blue’ and don’t divulge personal information involving unsolicited contact over the phone or internet. This advice is easy to give but in reality, sometimes you aren’t sure what to do. Your world is gray.

One of the fraud artist’s talents is to convince you to make a move when you aren’t sure. That is why they are described as performing an “art.” It is often a subjective, psychological and instinctive game they play with you. This is evident when a victim later admits they had misgivings very early on in their interaction with the “artist” but still went through with it. Right now, while you are reading this you can put this information into your brain and perhaps avoid a fraud in the future. Instead of learning from your own mistake, which is often very costly, learn from someone else’s mistake. Rule #1 therefore (in the gray world) is that if you think you may be getting scammed; put on the brakes, now! Say, “hold on, I feel uncomfortable with where this is going.” Start asking questions and demand some verification or go get it yourself. Maybe we are too polite, maybe we are too trusting. Maybe we are subject to pressure and feel we have to do something right now. The truth is that you can be polite but firm, and know that very little in life has to be decided right now. If a “great” deal comes with the condition that ‘you must act now’, be suspicious. It is the hallmark of someone trying to make you decide before you think. The safest deals are the one where the salesman says the deal will still be available tomorrow.

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Why you’re seeing SPS vehicles on the highways

If you’ve ever read some of our media releases relating to drug busts, you’re likely familiar with the SIDEST Unit – it stands for Saskatoon Integrated Drug Enforcement Street Team. The key word here is ‘integrated’, meaning a partnership with the RCMP. Other integrated units include CFSEU, ICE and IOCN.

Last June, we announced another integrated unit dedicated to traffic enforcement – the Combined Traffic Services Saskatchewan (CTSS), a partnership with the RCMP and SGI.

The creation of this unit came as a recommendation from the Saskatchewan Legislature all-party traffic safety report and when the laws for distracted, impaired and excessive speeding changed to include harsher penalties.

Here are the details:

  • Each unit will consist of 30 officers, 15 from existing provincially funded positions and 15 new officers funded by SGI. Of these;
    • 50 officers (25 per unit) will come from the RCMP
    • 10 officers (5 per unit) will be SPS members

These two units will be enforcing traffic laws on highways in central and southeastern Saskatchewan so if you see an SPS vehicle outside of city limits, now you will know why.

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5 Things that make the SPS one of SK’s Top Employers

For the third year in a row we are honoured to have been named as one of Saskatchewan’s Top 25 Employers!Sask Top Employers 2015

Some highlights from our nomination:

  1. We’ve been around for 112 years!
  2. 654 of us go to work everyday knowing that we’re making a difference and giving back to our community
  3. Brand new headquarters building, allowing everyone to work under one roof, including:
    • New fitness area and gymnasium to encourage staff wellness
    • State-of-the-art laboratories in forensic identification, indoor firing range and rooms dedicated to technological analysis
  4. Interpreter services that offers interpretation for over 80 different languages!
  5. Installation of video cameras in police cars to assist in traffic stops and resolve complaints against police.

“The Saskatoon Police Service is a dynamic, forward moving organization, offering its employees an opportunity to make a difference in the community on a daily basis,” says Lisa Olson, Director of Human Resources.

We’re always hiring, and we would love to hear from you! If you think you might be interested in a career in policing, please visit our Recruiting webpage for more information!

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Police Lights, Sirens – What purpose do they serve?

Post by: Cst. Candace Mitchell

Cover_Holidays

One of the most common complaints that we hear relates to our use of lights and sirens. And I will confess that, yes, I have used them to get to a coffee shop. Why? A man had collapsed. My partner and I were able to  offer assistance until he could be taken to hospital.

Many are quick to make jokes about Police flipping on lights and sirens to get through traffic when it suits them. The reality is that using those blaring sirens and flashing lights is not an advertisement that we’re going to a call; their use is to navigate traffic safely and efficiently. Often it’s emergencies that garner this reaction. Here are a few examples:

  • Medical emergencies. Officers are also trained in CPR / First Aid and can provide assistance until medical personnel arrive.
  • Crimes in progress (B&Es, assaults, property damage, alarms)

There are also a number of situations where using that equipment may only aggregate the situation:

  • Our highly trained Communications staff answers calls and dispatches us based on priority. They stay on the line with complainant/victim, continually receiving information. Sometimes, when initial information tells us lights and sirens are necessary, additional information can change the response.
  • Someone is breaking into a vehicle, and unbeknownst to them, I’m already on my way but I don’t want them to know that. My goal is to stop the act from proceeding and to also catch the person responsible.

With or without lights and sirens, we’re still responsible for driving in a reasonable and safe manner. Being reasonable means slowing at intersections before proceeding, travelling at safe speeds and arriving where we are needed. If we don’t do this, we have consequences as well. But it does make our jobs difficult. We have to carefully navigate through streets congested with vehicles, cyclists, and pedestrians. We also have to deal with road users who either aren’t paying attention or become frozen at the sight of an emergency vehicle.

The ability to activate lights and sirens is a luxury to our job but it’s an enormous responsibility. There are provisions for us to disobey the TSA but, trust me, if we don’t have to, we would rather not. Same as you all, we’re trying to get home to our families at the end of the day.

The biggest way you can help when you see an emergency vehicle with lights and sirens on? Pull to the right and stop as soon as you safely can.

If you observe a Police vehicle that you feel is being driven in an unsafe manner, you make file a complaint with our Professional Standards Unit.

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3rd Place in Best Dressed!

IMG_1877“Police vehicles are not just for transportation; they are the calling cards of a police service to the community.” And for the last decade, Blue Line Magazine Inc. has recognized the design of Canadian police vehicles during their annual “Best Dressed Police Vehicle” contest.

 

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Last year, we introduced a new look for our new patrol vehicles. The striping package was met with enthusiasm from both our own members and you, our community. We’re thrilled that the new look has been ranked as the 3rd Best Dressed Police Vehicle in the country!!

 

 

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The Value of First Aid

As Police Officers, you hear us speak a lot about the ‘tools in our tool kit’. Being trained in CPR and first aid is another such tool, but it isn’t one you hear of us using too often. We wanted to share a story of how our officers, and their CPR and first aid training helped save the life of a young boy in our community.

It was a Monday morning in early May when a call came over the radio that a child was choking. A three-year-old boy and his parents were sitting down for breakfast – banana pancakes were on the menu. When the boy took more than he could chew, he began to cough; the first sign that something wasn’t right. He started having difficulty breathing.

The first Constable arrived on scene, and after quickly assessing that the boy wasn’t able to answer her questions or cough, she knew she couldn’t wait for MD. She began performing abdominal thrusts, hoping to dislodge the food. It took approximately six thrusts before they heard the boy gasp for air. Her partner who had arrived shortly after her, immediately cleared the food from the airway, allowing the boy to breathe again.

It is instances like this that we realize the magnitude and value of our training and understand why we continue to train for any and all situations.

Without that life-saving training, the outcome of that day could have been very different.

Saving lives isn’t just the job of police officers, fire fighters, paramedics or doctors. If you haven’t been trained in CPR and first aid, consider finding a course near you and becoming certified. You never know when you might be able to help save someone’s life.

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Reporting Collisions to Police

Did you know you only need to report collisions to Police under certain circumstances?

This includes:
– if anyone is injured or there is a fatality
– a hit & run
– a driver is drunk, or otherwise impaired
– if a vehicle is not movable and requires it to be towed from the scene
– if one of the vehicles involved doesn’t have a valid license plate or is from out-of-province

Another tip to keep in mind if involved in a collision, if no one is injured or the injuries are very minor, and the vehicles are able to be driven, please move them off the roads to exchange information. If you don’t, it can be dangerous and cause additional collisions.

Collision_Winter

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From the Ground Up: Can’t BEAT the Heat

September is one of my favorite months on the beat for many reasons; the pace and call load seems to slow as kids are back to school, and the influx of summer tourists have come and gone from our beautiful city.  But one of the reasons I enjoy September the most, is the weather – warm temperate days, late mild nights, and most importantly, no bugs! Even though the weather does not stop us from getting the job done, it can play a huge part in how comfortable us beat officers are when walking. beat officers

Most would think that our Saskatchewan winters are the biggest challenge for beat officers, but for us it’s easier to warm up than it is to cool down. I have heard many times, “You guys don’t walk when it’s really cold, do you?” I usually reply that it’s not so bad – a quick coffee break and a chat with a bar owner or a restaurant waitress and we are good to head back out. Many years ago, my beat mentor Dave “Doc” Campbell taught me that a good beat officer never allows himself to get too “cold, thirsty or lonely” and I have adhered to those teachings since day one.

As Police officers, we have a certain amount of gear that we need to have on us at all times, all of which weighs about 20 lbs. For example, our protective vests could be the difference between going home every day or not, so we wear them day in and day out. But they are hot and uncomfortable every which way you look at it and make for some challenging days when walking the beat in the heat of summer. Unlike those in cars, us beat guys don’t have the luxury of air conditioning. Now this might sound like I am complaining a bit and even though the heat of our Saskatchewan summers can wear on the best of us, summer is a great time out on the beat.

With summer drawing to a close, I always notice that the pace of people changes as well. The spring and summer months seem to be a time of rushing to get things done, whereas when fall rolls around, people seem to slow a bit as if trying to prolong the inevitable which sometimes comes sooner that we’d like. This is especially noticeable downtown when the patios and sundecks are full of people trying to take advantage of our shorter days and even shorter periods of good sun.

ChessOne of the most fulfilling parts on my job as a beat officer is just how many comments I receive about how safe people feel in our downtown, and how they love to see officers on foot interacting with the public. People from other places comment on how they wish their city had officers on foot and how it adds a unique personal level of comfort to people working and visiting our downtown. In hearing these daily positive comments, I know they attest to the effectiveness of foot patrols and I am happy that I have been a part of adding one more spoke in the wheel of policing and public safety within our city.

 

So with all that, I encourage people to get out and enjoy the last few great days of summer while it lasts – I know us beat officers will.

All the best

Chess

Posted in A Day in the Life, From The Ground Up (by Cst. Derek Chesney) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Testing your motorcycle: What you need to know

Due to the amendments that City Council made to the Noise Bylaw earlier this year, members of our Traffic Unit are conducting decibel testing to ensure motorcycles fall within the designated parameters.

The process is a simple one and takes roughly 3 minutes of your time. Here’s how it works:

The equipment is set-up based on the position of the exhaust pipe. The decibel reader is positioned at a 45 degree angle, 20 inches away from the exhaust. The reader and exhaust are also level.

         dB Testing 1          db Testing 3

After the equipment is in place, we ask the rider to make sure the bike is in neutral, and if it is, to start it up. We let it settle into idle and begin the first test. Section 5.1(c) of the Noise Bylaw states that the sound emitted cannot exceed 92 dB when idling. However, we’re giving people plenty of grace in allowing a +/- 2 dB points. So if you’re bike was 94.1, it would fail the test.

Motor Vehicle Noise Prohibition

The second part of the testing is done when the bike is revved. We test two-cylinder bikes, 3 times, at 2000 RPM’s. Again, we take the lowest reading. And then we take the lowest reading of those three to determine whether the bike passes or fails.

And that’s it! If your motorcycle exceeds the limits, it’s your choice to make the necessary adjustments before the 2015 riding season. Because, as you’re all aware, the remainder of 2014 is an amnesty period and no tickets will be written!

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The video below illustrates the testing of a two-cylinder bike at idle. You can see in the video that the decibel reader fluctuates. We take the lowest reading that we see appear. What was the lowest reading you saw?

Testing of Motorcycle at Idle

For a listing of upcoming testing clinics, click here.

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