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Fatality inquiry on hold as police review investigation of Edmonton man’s death

A fatality inquiry has been stayed while police continue to review their investigation into the death of a mentally ill man who was under the supervision of Alberta Health Services.

An inquiry into the April 2013 death of Cameron Bisset, 54, had been scheduled for September. But on Monday, the Crown stayed the hearing. A police spokesperson said the homicide section is reviewing its file and that further information would be available later this month.

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Bisset’s emaciated body was found slumped over a bedside table in the apartment where he lived alone, under the supervision of AHS.

An autopsy report concluded he died of upper-gastrointestinal hemorrhaging due to a pair of ulcers and that malnutrition and schizophrenia were also factors.

In February 2015, George Bisset said he believes the health-care system failed his brother.

READ MORE: AHS mental health supports in the spotlight in light of 2013 death of Edmonton man

At the time, Global News reached out to AHS and police for comment, but requests were denied.

In a letter to George Bisset, AHS said: “After a careful review we have concluded that the mental health care and treatment provided by the Edmonton Zone Addiction & Mental Health programs was appropriate both with regard to the level and standard of care.”

An internal police report obtained by Global News contradicts those claims. Shortly after Cameron Bisset’s death, Edmonton police conducted a Professional Standards Branch investigation. The findings: Cameron Bisset’s care was far from perfect but no one person could be blamed for his death.

While the investigating officer found “for a variety of reasons I do not have any reasonable suspicion that anybody involved in his care meets the thresholds for (criminal) offences, … it is not to say that there were no issues with Cameron’s care.”

The report questions where responsibility for Cameron Bisset’s care lay, and noted there were dozens of people in several positions involved in his care.

Then-NDP health critic David Eggen, now the minister of education, said Bisset’s death, though tragic, was not “entirely surprising” because of the lengths to which the system is stretched.

“There’s been a lot of pressure on the capacity for our system to look after the people that are the most vulnerable in our society,” Eggen told Global News.

“The worst thing is we see more of these cases than ever before. For every one that we actually get illumination on there’s 10 more people out there suffering, or more.”

With files from Kerry Powell, Eric Szeto and Caley Ramsay. 

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Tips to save money as food prices rise

The cost of groceries in New Brunswick has increased drastically over the past four years.

For people who would normally spend $10,000 a year on groceries, by the end of 2016 they will have spent an additional $320 on the same items.

READ MORE: Low loonie drives up grocery bills 4.1% as food prices ‘accelerate’

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Katharine Hartnett says she’s notice the increase, and tells Global News it’s changing the way she shops.

“We do spend more money on groceries, and I find it difficult because everything is going up in price —; but our salaries,” Harnett said.

Harnett says she’s started to grow her own vegetables in order to keep herself and her family healthy, ensuring they still get nutritious food.

“I’ve planted my own kale, my own zucchini, and my own cucumbers,” Hartnett said.

Foundation Health Centre registered dietitian Jenn Traboulsee says there are some simple ways people can save money that still allow them to eat a balanced meal.

“I hear a lot about the cost of meats and stuff have gone up, but there’s other protein sources out there. So a lot of times I emphasize legumes —; which would be like your chickpeas, your lentils and your beans,” Traboulsee said.

Traboulsee says there are some frozen items that can be just as healthy as fresh ones, and are extremely cost effective, specifically frozen or canned vegetables.

“A lot of times those frozen and canned items are picked when they’re ripe, and then they are frozen or canned immediately. So a lot of times they might be more nutrient-dense than actual fresh produce,” Traboulsee said.

She also says that there’s a misconception about fast food being cheaper than healthy food. Items like fast-food cheeseburgers may cost less than a bag of apples from the grocery store, but she says you’re getting more calories and less nutrients.

READ MORE: Canadians snubbing certain fruits and vegetables due to high produce prices

Traboulsee also suggests that people can go through flyers and find coupons one day and then plan their grocery list based on what items are on-sale.  She says it’s important to be organized, and that meal planning will save you money in the long-run.

Another cost-saving option is to purchase weekly grocery boxes.

In many cities, shoppers can find locally grown produce boxes, along with other types of foods such as a variety of meats.

Real Food Connections in Fredericton offers weekly produce boxes for $25.

Locally grown foods are price-stable, says Real Food Connections co-owner and president Levi Lawrence.

“Most of our local producers are pricing their food on what it costs them to grow it, and that’s a very different strategy than at the supermarket level,” Lawrence said.

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Stanley Cup finals: Pittsburgh Police remove couches from houses near stadium ahead of Game 5

Police in Pittsburgh are being cautious ahead of a potential Stanley Cup win Thursday night.

Public works crews spent the day collecting close to two dozen couches from porches of houses near the Consol Energy Center.

City officials are worried they may be set on fire if celebrations get out of hand after the game.

READ MORE: ‘Temporary’ Crosby exhibit in Halifax too popular to close

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are playing the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final. They have already won three games, and if they win Thursday night, they’ll win the cup.

Police say they want to make sure hockey fans celebrate responsibly if that happens.

“If the Penguins are fortunate enough to win we want to see on the morning news the good things… the Pittsburghers celebrating. We don’t want to see any folks destroying or upsetting the apple cart here in Pittsburgh,” Guy Costa, the city’s chief of operations, told KDKA-TV.

Extra police will be on hand for crowd control, and fans will only get 90 mins after the game ends before they will be asked to leave the premises.

The city could be trying to prevent something like what happened in Vancouver in 2011 – when riots broke out after the Canucks lost the cup.

READ MORE: Last two Stanley Cup rioters sentenced to time behind bars for assault

Businesses and civilians suffered losses estimated at $2.7 million and $540,000, respectively, while the cost to the City of Vancouver, B.C. Ambulance Service and St. Paul’s Hospital was $525,000.

A report says the city spent over $5 million prosecuting cases that stemmed from the riot.

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Crime

Stanley Cup riot prosecution cost $5 million

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Stanley cup riot anniversary

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Archive: How the world viewed the riot



The last time the Penguins won the cup was in 2009, and there were no riots then.

Police say they don’t expect any this time either, but are only being cautious by removing the couches.

“If there’s no fuel, chances are there won’t be any fire and we’re going to try and limit the fuel sources that people will have that access to,” Pittsburgh Fire Chief Darryl Jones said.

The couches will be held until the end of the Stanley Cup.

*With files from . 

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At 76, Lethbridge woman signals trend of seniors working longer

A Lethbridge woman says the key to living a long and healthy life is to keep working.

Johanna Hribar has worked at a London Drugs store in Lethbridge for over 25 years, and at 76 years old, Hribar is part of a growing trend in Alberta.

According to the latest Alberta government statistics, there has been a steady increase in the percentage of seniors working since 2009.

However, Trevor Lewington of Economic Development Lethbridge believes that it could be a choice made by seniors, rather than a reflection of the current state of the economy.

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    “I hope it’s not a reflection of economic times, but that more seniors are choosing to work, because they are healthier and want to be an active member of society.”

    Hribar echoes Lewington, and says working keeps her young.

    “I love to work and I don’t like to sit at home and do nothing,” Hribar said.

    “I love the people I work with.”

    Hribar is among a group of seniors who work as cashiers at London Drugs. Her colleagues say she brings wisdom and classic customer service to the store.

    “She is so caring. Once you meet her you can’t help but be infatuated with her,” assistant manager Nicole Moriyama said.

    A recent widow, Hribar says working is what gets her up in the morning, and that she plans to work until she dies.

    “If you have a positive attitude, that’s one of the most important things in life,” Hribar said. “I hope they can keep me fore a little bit longer.”

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Reality check: Can Canada’s red-hot housing markets be reined in?

The Bank of Canada’s ominous warning Thursday cut no corners: skyrocketing housing prices in Vancouver and Toronto are not sustainable.

While some are being shut out of the market, those who jumped in are financially stretched. Should there be a correction, a lot of people could be in serious trouble, the report warned.

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READ MORE: Vancouver housing prices jump over 30%; Toronto also sees spike

So what can be done to control sky high real estate prices in Canada’s hot spots?

The foreign ownership question

Foreign ownership of Canadian real estate increasingly gets the blame for pushing up prices, especially in Vancouver. But put down the pitchforks: the hard data to prove it just isn’t there.

“We don’t really know about foreign ownership as much as we would like to,” said professor William Strange from the University of Toronto’s Rotman School of Management, adding that it’s largely folktales painting a picture of empty downtown highrises, bought and paid for with foreign money.

“And that can matter in a lot of ways.”

READ MORE: Foreign buyers to blame for housing crisis: study

There’s been suggestion of creating a special tax for foreign owners of Canadian real estate.

Strange says the first thing we need to do is figure out how many foreigners are truly sitting on property, and base any tax changes on basic principles of fairness.

“If it’s just, ‘these darn foreigners are changing our world,’ I don’t think that’s what Canada is about,” said Strange.

He says one change could be to assess if foreign owners are paying their share of the costs of public services.

“But just objecting because it’s foreigners who are buying it seems not to be in our interest.”

The province of B.C. is starting to track citizenship of real estate owners, as housing affordability reaches crisis levels.

“So much of the [affordability discussion] has focused in part in the absence of reliable data on what exactly is going on. Who is buying, where are they from,” B.C. Finance Minister Mike de Jong said in February.

“We think it’s time to start collecting again.”

WATCH: Are foreign buyers getting first dibs on Vancouver’s homes for sale? 

Cameron Muir, chief economist with the British Columbia Real Estate Association says he’s eager to see the results, so the “extent and depth” of foreign ownership can truly be examined. But he doesn’t expect it to be a game-changer.

“I think the data to date certainly suggests it’s a factor, but not a sufficient factor to cause the kinds of housing demand that we’re seeing today.”

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) says rates of foreign ownership sit around 3.3 per cent in Toronto and 3.5 per cent in Vancouver when it comes to condos.

Muir says the bulk of B.C. buyers live and work in their communities.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said we need better data on foreign ownership of Canadian real estate, but said we must be wary of imposing hostile measures.

READ MORE: Want to buy a house in Canada? It’ll cost you 400 weeks of work

“We have to be very, very cautious about restricting foreign investment in our country,” Trudeau told Global News last December.

Ultimately, Strange said, we should be happy the rest of the world sees Canada as a place to park its money.

“I think that if we tell foreigners that they’re not welcome to invest in Canada we’re going to find there’s lots of consequences for Canadian businesses,” Strange said.

The single detached home: the unicorn of real estate

Sorry, first-time home buyers: a single detached home is likely out of your league. There is simply not enough of the prized real estate to go around.

“Single detached homes… comprise just five per cent of the Metro Vancouver housing stock,” said Muir, calling them “a luxury product.”

READ MORE: Owning home becoming pipedream for many house-hunters in Toronto, Vancouver

Both Toronto and Vancouver lack more land to build more.

“There is no building out,” said Muir. “There really is no ability to sprawl anymore than has already occurred.”

Strange says in Toronto there is simply not enough supply for everyone to have a nice big house on their own lot.

READ MORE: More access to real estate data a win for consumers 

“That’s just not going to work. There’s no way we can accommodate all the growth that’s projected for Toronto. There has to be higher-density development to fit people in.”

Condos, townhouses and other multi-housing structures are becoming the norm, especially for the first-time home buyer.

“Within Toronto we’re talking about [building] up rather than talking about going out,” said Strange.

Even with a shortage of supply, B.C. is seeing a buying frenzy.

“We’re experiencing record consumer demand,” said Muir. “Home sales in the province this year are going to be at all-time record levels.”

It’s not just Metro Vancouver; Victoria and Kelowna are posting housing demand records as well.

“That of course has drawn down inventories,” Muir said, adding there are supply lows not seen in decades in some areas.

“That’s caused quite an imbalance between supply and demand, and causing prices right now to accelerate.”

The possible solutions

Vancouver should see respite in the coming years thanks to a building boom currently underway.

“We’re in a housing cycle that happens every several years in which consumers decide they’re going to buy. And that’s really leading to the record levels,” said Muir.

That’s where the Vancouver market is now: at high tide. And when the demand is great, builders react.

READ MORE: Feds considering luxury tax to cool housing market

“The lag between getting that signal in the marketplace —; supplies get drawn down. It takes a number of years for all these housing units to be completed, to be added into the marketplace,” said Muir.

“In between that, we tend to see rising prices. So we get this ramp up in prices and then a plateau. And that’s quite common in the Vancouver housing market.”

WATCH: Vancouver’s piping hot real estate market spreads to suburbs 

There are a record number of homes under construction in Metro Vancouver, Muir says. But he doesn’t expect real estate prices to ever bottom out.

“Collapse is a pretty charged word.”

He agrees with the Bank of Canada’s comments; growth of 20 per cent year after year is not sustainable. But there will always be people who want to buy real estate in and around Vancouver.

“The regional housing market has many points of growth in which housing demand is very strong.”

More can be done by governments to relax restrictions on Toronto’s housing supply, Strange says.

“This is a competitive market. It’s partly us doing this to ourselves, getting carried away in our enthusiasm,” said Strange.

“And the government does make it a bit harder by regulating supply strictly, and probably needs to find ways to reduce it at least in some parts of the city.”

There are also plenty of places in Canada with plentiful and reasonably priced real estate, but the communities might lack jobs or desirability. Unless that changes, people will flock to the country’s hubs for employment, which tend to be the priciest areas.

“Handling the scale at which Canada has changed is a challenge. And we’re going to need to be at the top of our game to address it,” Strange said.

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Amnesty International calls for release of Canadian jailed for research on women in Iran

MONTREAL – Amnesty International is calling on Iran to release a Montreal-based university professor who has been in prison since Monday.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, described Homa Hoodfar as a prisoner of conscience.

READ MORE: Feds working to help Canadian academic reported jailed in Iran

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“The arrest of respected and accomplished scholar, Dr. Homa Hoodfar, is the latest attempt by the Iranian authorities at targeting individuals, including academics, for the peaceful exercise of their rights to freedom of expression and association,” Neve said in a statement Thursday.

“It is deeply troubling that someone whose research focuses on addressing women’s inequality can find herself arbitrarily arrested and held, possibly in solitary confinement, without access to a lawyer and her family.”

Hoodfar, a professor of anthropology at Concordia University, was arrested Monday after being interrogated by authorities, according to her niece, Amanda Ghahremani.

RELATED: Canadian acquitted in UAE case released from prison

Ghahremani told on Wednesday the 65-year-old is in the notorious Evin prison after conducting academic research on women in the country.

She said her aunt had not been allowed to contact her lawyer or family and that the nature of the charges against her was unclear.

Amnesty also called on Ottawa to take all possible diplomatic measures to ensure her immediate release and safe return to Canada.

Omar Alghabra, the parliamentary secretary for Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion, said the government is taking the case “very seriously.”

“We’re very concerned about the well-being of Dr. Hoodfar and we want to do everything we can to get her out of there as soon as possible,” he said Thursday.

Because the Canadian government does not have a diplomatic presence in Iran, officials are reaching out to “like-minded allies” to ask them for help in securing Hoodfar’s release, he noted.

He said he and Dion had both met with Hoodfar’s family and would do whatever they could to have her freed.

The new Liberal government has indicated it will re-establish relations with Iran and reopen the embassy the previous Conservative government closed in Tehran in 2012.

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‘We fought like lions,’ Trudeau says of soldiers as newest war monument unveiled

CFB BORDEN, Ont. —; Prime Minister Justin Trudeau helped unveil Canada’s newest war monument on Thursday in a ceremony marking the 100th anniversary of the country’s largest military base.

Speaking in bright sunshine before hundreds of dignitaries, armed forces personnel and members of the public, Trudeau praised the efforts of veterans, those who have died in battle, and those who currently serve.

Canada and Canadians have earned respect around the world, he said, not just because we are polite or friendly and peaceable.

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READ MORE: Trudeau urged by human rights advocates to launch public inquiry into Afghan detainees

“The reason the world pays heed to Canada is because we fought like lions in the trenches of World War I, on the beaches of World War II, and in theatres and conflicts scattered around the globe,” Trudeau said.

“We showed our ability to stand for our values, and fight and sacrifice for them in faraway places.”

With the pomp and ceremony befitting the occasion, “sacred soil” from the First World War battle of Vimy Ridge brought back to Canada last year was placed in an opening in the new memorial wall to serve as a permanent reminder of, and tribute to, those whose blood drenched the killing fields in France 99 years ago.

“We remember their courage and their sacrifice with a memorial that, like the resolve of Canadians themselves, survived a second world war,” Trudeau said.

“Nearly a century after their loss, Canada remembers and continues to mourn.”

The monument —; a nine-metre polished black and white granite wall along with a bronze statue of a bugler nearby —; forms the ceremonial northern entrance to Canadian Forces Base Borden near, Barrie, Ont.

The project was designed by Canadian artist and sculptor Marlene Hilton Moore. Funds for the monument were largely raised locally.

About two million military personnel have trained at Borden over the past century and about 20,000 more soldiers, sailors and airmen train at the base every year.

Trudeau said the country was in the process of reinvigorating its role as peacekeepers and stepping up its efforts to engage constructively with the rest of the world.

“Canada is committed to playing our part, indeed, to continue to punch well above our weight,” the prime minister said.

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Number of accidental drug overdoses rises significantly in 2016: Coroner

Illicit drug-related deaths in B.C. increased by 75 per cent between January and May compared to the same time frame in 2015, according to new statistics released by the BC Coroners Service.

From January through May 2016, there were 308 accidental drug overdose deaths in B.C. and the large majority of those deaths involved the use of fentanyl.

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In April, the significant increase in drug-related overdoses and deaths in B.C. prompted Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall to declare a public health emergency, which was the first time the PHO has served notice under the Public Health Act to exercise emergency powers.

READ MORE: Little if any heroin left in Vancouver, all fentanyl: drug advocates

British Columbia was the first province to take this kind of action in response to a public health crisis from drug overdoses. But so far, the PHO’s declaration of a public-health emergency doesn’t appear to have slowed the number of overdose deaths, according to B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake.

Fentanyl overdoses have been steadily increasing in B.C. over the past five years. According to the PHO, the increase in drug overdose deaths for which fentanyl was present went from five per cent in 2012 to approximately 31 per cent in 2015.

The recent statistics also show that in January 2016, there were 77 drug overdose deaths, which is the largest number of deaths in a single month for an extended period.

To prevent more deaths from overdosing, the BC Centre for Disease Control has distributed 8,000 kits containing the opioid antidote naloxone.

Health Canada removed the prescription status on naloxone in March to improve accessibility.

The kits are now available at over 100 establishments across the province and 1,200 kits have already been used to reverse overdoses, said Dr. Mark Tyndall, executive director of the Centre for Disease Control.

“The option to get it out of pharmacies has also been very helpful and we need to make sure people are aware they can pick it up,” he said.

Tyndall said the kits have a larger dose of the antidote than what was previously prescribed for opioids in order to be effective on the more dangerous substance fentanyl.

The coroner’s report shows fentanyl was involved in 56 per cent of deaths in the first four months of this year compared with just five per cent of drug-related deaths in 2012.

Tyndall said more services are needed, including rapid access to detox programs, to help people with addictions.

The health minister acknowledged there is a gap and said the government is investing in new services and centres for mental health and substance abuse.

However, Lake said “you can’t flip a switch” and it will take time for new services to have an effect.

~ with files from Canadian Press

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Crown drops Alberta assault charges against daredevil wrestler Teddy Hart

The Crown has dropped criminal charges against Teddy Hart, a member of Canada’s legendary Hart wrestling family and known for his daredevil antics both inside and outside the ring as well as for his breeding of Persian cats.

Hart, whose legal name is Edward Annis, was charged with assault, unlawful confinement and sexual assault against two women in Sherwood Park, just east of Edmonton, in 2013 and 2014.

The charges were withdrawn at the start of a preliminary hearing May 26.

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A spokeswoman with Alberta Justice says the Crown determined after a review that the case did not meet the criteria needed to proceed.

Lawyer Kent Teskey says his client had always maintained his innocence.

“Teddy has had this fog of charges over him for a year-and-a-half,” Teskey said Thursday.

“He’s relieved and looks forward to getting back to work.”

The same day the charges were withdrawn, Hart signed a peace bond agreeing not to contact the two women for two years. Teskey said Hart has no interest in contacting the complainants.

Hart, 36, is the grandson of Stu Hart, founder of Calgary’s Stampede Wrestling, and nephew of famed wrestler Bret (The Hitman) Hart.

At 18, he became the youngest wrestler to sign with what is now World Wrestling Entertainment. He later worked on other wrestling circuits in the United States, Mexico and Europe.

A March profile in Rolling Stone magazine detailed his eclectic lifestyle. He also has a side-career breeding Persian cats.

A pilot for a reality show about Hart, titled “Hart Attack,” was filmed but never aired. A description of the show says Hart “lived in a mansion filled with models, bikers and 50 Persian show cats.”

A producer of the show, Kurt Spenrath, is making a short documentary about Hart called “Hart of Darkness.”

Spenrath said that since the charges were withdrawn, Hart has received more wrestling offers. There are also plans for him to open a wrestling school in Los Angeles.

“He certainly seems to be reinvigorated in his career, strangely enough,” Spenrath said. “Promoters from all over North America have been scrambling for him.”

Teskey said Hart lived in Sherwood Park during the time of the women’s allegations.

Hart was in Texas when he was charged by RCMP in late 2014 and returned to Canada to turn himself in.

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Pay your taxes with iTunes gift cards? Edmonton police warn it’s a scam

Over the past few months, Edmonton police have received several reports of a scam involving people posing as Canada Revenue Agency officials to swindle people out of money.

Police said telephone scammers claiming to be from the CRA will call people and tell them they have not filed their taxes properly and they owe the government money. The scammers then instruct people to pay up with pre-purchased iTunes gift cards.

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  • CRA telephone scam making the rounds again

    Millions lost in Canada Revenue Agency call scam

    “These individuals are persistent and will use virtually any scare tactic they believe will allow them to get into people’s wallets,” Det. Bill Allen with the EPS said. “Scammers will go as far as telling you that police will show up at your door and arrest you – which is absolutely untrue.”

    READ MORE: Ontario woman defrauded of more than $12K in iTunes gift cards in CRA scam: police

    Allen said retailers should be on the lookout for this scam, citing one instance in particular.

    “We are currently investigating a file where a woman was convinced she owed the CRA $22,000. The woman visited two grocery stores and purchased $10,000 worth of iTunes gift cards at the first location and then purchased and additional $12,000 in iTunes gift cards at the second location. The woman then sent photos of the cards to the scammers.”

    READ MORE: Canada Revenue Agency scam dupes Edmonton-area senior out of more than $20K

    The CRA said it will never request payment by gift cards and urges people to verify the call before handing over any money. Randy Westerman, communications manager with CRA’s Prairie Region, said the organization does not conduct business in the following ways:

    Ask for personal information of any kind by email or text messageRequest payments by prepaid credit/gift cardsGive taxpayer information to another person, unless formal authorization is provided by the taxpayerSend an email with a link and ask you to divulge personal or financial informationLeave personal information on an answering machine

    Anyone who may have fallen victim to the scam is asked to visit a local police detachment to file a complaint or contact the EPS at 780-423-4567 or #377 from a mobile phone.

    For more information on how to protect yourself against scammers, visit the CRA’s website.

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