Recent cyber-crime data shows that Winnipeg has significantly increased over the past year. The police gave some tips on protecting ourselves.

Stats Canada recently released cyber-crime data, which covers people being victimized online, often financially. It also includes identity theft, extortion and bullying.

"There [are] a lot of email-based scams," said Shaun Velvman, Sargent with the Winnipeg Police Financial Crime Unit. "They run [through] the different stories they are using to separate you from your money."

In 2015, the number of reported cyber-crimes in Winnipeg was 123. In 2016, that number drastically rose to 321. But while the numbers may look threatening, Velvman says that it could also be that people are more comfortable reporting it now.

"We always knew that it was under-reported," Velvman said. "We've tried to encourage the public to report it."

He does expect the number to rise, both as people continue to report existing crimes and as people become more reliant on online communication.

"I know that [Winnipeg is] a part of a bigger problem, it's not just specific to Winnipeg," Velvman acknowledged.

The Christmas season can increase crimes as well since there is an increase in online activity. Especially while people are looking for deals, Velvman says that everyone is vulnerable.

"Certainly everyone is vulnerable if they aren't diligent with verifying who they are dealing with online," he explained.

Velvman offered a few tips for those who are shopping or communicating online:

  • Be on your guard. Don't just assume that things will work out. Question stuff that doesn't seem like it belongs.
  • Make sure you are using reputable companies and check that the way you transfer money is legitimate.
  • Educate yourself. Velvman recommends going to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre website to learn more about the common scams and what people are doing that has worked.

While there was no call to stay offline, Velvman urges extreme caution as you online and to report any crime that you see to the Winnipeg Police Service.