OPP urging public to be aware of phone and e-mail scammers

(FORT FRANCES, ON) – The Rainy River District Detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is warning the public to be aware of fraudulent emails and request for funds in the form of gift cards, money orders or cryptocurrency.

Scammers are increasingly using email, phone calls and other online social media applications as a means of communication to target potential victims. The OPP are warning all residents to be on the lookout for unsolicited messages claiming that you have won a prize as a result of being a new account holder of any new media platform that was recently downloaded to your devices. If you receive a suspicious message from anyone claiming that you won a large sum of money or new vehicle or requesting simply delete the message and do NOT send any money.

Below are some characteristics a scammer may exhibit when calling or sending an email.

  • Urgency— The scammer always makes the request sound very urgent, which may cause the victim to not verify the story.
  • Fear— The scammer plays on the victim’s emotions by generating a sense of fear. For instance they may say, “I am scared and I need help from you.” Verify the identity of the person by asking a question they would not know the answer to.
  • Secrecy— The scammer pleads with the victim not to tell anyone about the situation, such as, “Please don’t tell Dad or Mom, they would be so mad.” Regardless of the emergency, call another family member to confirm the story.

Police would like to remind the public:

  • Never give out personal information over the phone or through email (banking information, social insurance number)
  • Your caller ID system may have been spoofed, don’t let your guard down
  • Always consult a family member or a trusted friend to validate the information received and before sending any money.
  • If in doubt, do not hesitate to contact your local police service or OPP Detachment to discuss the matter.
  • Never send currency in the form of gift card, money order or cryptocurrency when requested
  • If it sounds too good to be true, it most likely is a scam.

If you do fall victim to a fraud or know someone who has, we urge individuals to contact your local police service and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) by phone at 1-888-495-8501 or online by way of the Fraud Reporting System (FRS), even if a financial loss did not occur.

If you have information on any crime activity in the area, contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or *OPP (677) on your mobile phone. Your call could make our communities safer for all. Should you wish to remain anonymous, you may call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS), or submit a tip on line at www.p3tips.com/273 where you may be eligible to receive a cash reward of up to $2,000.

CHILD PORN

(NIPIGON, ON) – Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Nipigon Detachment have arrested and charged a Nipigon resident following an online child sexual exploitation investigation.

In May 2020 an investigation into online access to child pornography was initiated by the Nipigon OPP. Police executed a search warrant at a Nipigon residence and seized a number of electronic devices for further examination.

As a result of this investigation, on June 14, 2021, a 29-year-old individual was arrested and charged with one count of possession of child pornography contrary to section 163.1(4) of the Criminal Code and one count of accessing child pornography contrary to section 163.1(4.1) of the Criminal Code.

Due to a publication ban police are unable to identify the accused.

The accused was held for a bail hearing and was subsequently released with a future court date in August 2021 at the Ontario Court of Justice in Thunder Bay.

Children are our most valuable and precious members of society. Many victims of child sexual abuse are so young that they cannot tell their story. Every time an image or video depicting that abuse is shared, that child is re-victimized. Members of the OPP Child Sexual Exploitation Unit will continue to collaborate with other agencies to pursue individuals who exploit children on the Internet.  

Anyone wanting to make a difference is encouraged to go to www.protectchildren.ca and download the “Child Sexual Abuse-It Is Your Business” brochure from the Canadian Center for Child Protection. This is an important first step that can save a child.

Parents are reminded to take a proactive approach to help protect their children from online sexual exploitation by speaking with their children regarding Internet safety. Parents and anyone interested in protecting children can find resources to assist them at www.cybertip.ca.

CHILD PORN

(THUNDER BAY, ON) – Members of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Child Sexual Exploitation Unit, Digital Forensics, Anishinabek Police Service – Fort William Detachment and the Thunder Bay Police Service have arrested and charged a Fort William First Nation resident following an online child sexual exploitation investigation.

  On June 16, 2021, police executed a search warrant at a residence in Fort William First Nation and seized numerous electronic devices for further examination. As a result of this investigation, a 31-years-old was arrested and charged with one count of possession of child pornography contrary to section 163.1(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada.

  The accused is currently in custody and will be appearing at a bail hearing at the Ontario Court of Justice in Thunder Bay on June 17, 2021.

  Children are our most valuable and precious members of society. Many victims of child sexual abuse are so young that they cannot tell their story. Every time an image or video depicting that abuse is shared, that child is re-victimized. Members of the OPP Child Sexual Exploitation Unit will continue to collaborate with other agencies to pursue individuals who exploit children on the Internet.   

  Anyone wanting to make a difference is encouraged to go to www.protectchildren.ca and download the “Child Sexual Abuse-It Is Your Business” brochure from the Canadian Center for Child Protection. This is an important first step that can save a child.

  Parents are reminded to take a proactive approach to help protect their children from online sexual exploitation by speaking with their children regarding Internet safety. Parents and anyone interested in protecting children can find resources to assist them at www.cybertip.ca.

  Police are asking anyone who may have information regarding this investigation or if you have information regarding Internet child exploitation, please contact the OPP at . If wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crime Stoppers at (TIPS) or 1-800-222-8477, www.ontariocrimestoppers.ca.  Reporting information may also be made on the internet through www.cybertip.ca. 1-888-310-1122.

MENTAL HEALTH

Ontario Adding Mental Health Workers to OPP Communications Centres

The Ontario government is investing $8.4 million over three years in a new Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Crisis Call Diversion Program. This program will help police offer the most appropriate response to calls from individuals experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis, which may include diversion to appropriate mental health services. This investment is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy.

“Our government is proud to take steps to enhance care for mental health and other acute crisis situations through the Crisis Call Diversion Program,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “By offering critical crisis response services, dedicated mental health and addictions specialists will ensure individuals experiencing a crisis can access immediate supports while diverting the need for police interventions in non-emergency situations.”

The Crisis Call Diversion Program consists of a professional mental health and addictions crisis worker who will be embedded into each of the OPP Provincial Communications Centres. Once assigned to the call, the crisis worker can assist individuals experiencing a crisis by providing resources and tools, offering referrals and helping them navigate the mental health system for help. Alternatively, the crisis worker can also provide support and assist in preliminary de-escalation when a call has been assigned to a police officer.

Successfully piloted at the OPP London Communications Centre, the program has been assisting individuals who call in with a variety of acute crisis situations including, but not limited to, mental health or substance use issues, relationship conflicts and family concerns. The program has now been implemented at a second location, the OPP Thunder Bay Communications Centre, and will be implemented at additional Communications Centres later this year.

Between November 2, 2020 and June 6, 2021, crisis workers were engaged in 478 calls, 16 per cent of which were completely diverted from frontline officer response. The remaining calls required officer assistance where the crisis worker stayed on the call, assisted in preliminary de-escalation, provided support and referral to community resources or connected individuals to appropriate community services to support their needs.

“Our officers respond to thousands of mental health calls a year,” said OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique. “The Crisis Call Diversion Program not only reduces the use of police personnel for non-emergent responses when appropriate, but also helps individuals experiencing mental health crises by offering better pathways to meet their needs and supporting the de-stigmatization of mental health.”

The OPP has also created a comprehensive Crisis Call Diversion Development and Implementation Guide to share with other police services and health partners considering similar programs or initiatives.

“Mental health is health,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “Thousands of people experiencing mental health and addictions issues across Ontario deserve our support and access to the treatment and care they need. COVID-19 has only intensified the need for action. That is why our government has made record investments of $3.8 billion over 10 years to expand critical mental health care services, including an additional $175 million in the recent 2021 Budget to ensure we bring support directly to those who need it.”

“Protecting the health and well-being of all Ontarians will always be our government’s top priority, and that includes mental health,” said Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “We have been working collaboratively across all sectors to ensure individuals are matched with the most appropriate mental health and addictions supports that meet their unique needs. Through this investment, people who may be experiencing a mental health or addictions crisis will be further protected and fully supported in accessing the care they need, when and where they need it.”

Healthy people are essential for a healthy economy. With vaccines being distributed, hope is on the horizon. Ontario’s Action Plan: Protecting People’s Health and Our Economy provides the resources necessary to finish the battle with COVID-19, building on the government’s record investments to protect health and jobs during the global pandemic.