Scammers are impersonating banks in an effort to con people into transferring them funds, the Alberta RCMP’s integrated market enforcement team (IMET) warns.

Known as “brand hijacking” scams or “clone firms,” IMET says scams are targeting victims through online searches for investment products.

Top search engine results can include advertisements linked to fake websites where victims are prompted to provide their contact information, and then scammers contact them while posing as representatives of brand name investment firms or financial institutions.

As a result, victims buy into the fake investment products, trust scammers with their personal finances and send them money via wire transfers and bank drafts.

“This particular fraud trend is very advanced as scammers are spoofing not only real institutions, but also real employees at these institutions,” said Sgt. Lloyd Schoepp with IMET, the specialized unit under the RCMP’s federal policing program that investigates and deters market fraud.

Tips to avoid online investment scams

According to IMET, the impersonations include using names, job titles and even fraudulent credentials of actual investment professionals.

Meanwhile, the websites and materials provided to victims are high-quality and often identical to those of well-known investment firms.

IMET said it is working closely with the Alberta Securities Commission and other Canadian securities regulators “to protect investors from this type of…

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