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RCMP investigating government 
email scam 

[PoliticsWatch updated 5:15 p.m. May 31, 2007]

OTTAWA  — The federal government has asked the RCMP to investigate an email scam designed to induce unwitting recipients to give out personal information over the Internet by using a government department as a front.
  
Earlier this month, Service Canada issued a warning to the public about an email circulating sending people to a bogus department web site that requested information such as "credit card numbers, Social Insurance Number, and date of birth."

Similar email scams have used well-known banks and financial services as a front for fake Internet sites requesting personal information. 

Human Resources and Social Development Minister Monte Solberg told PoliticsWatch on Wednesday the RCMP is now investigating the matter. 

"When we discovered it we immediately passed it on to the RCMP and took steps to make sure that the site was taken down," Solberg said. "The RCMP continues to investigate."

Solberg said the government does not know how many people have been duped by the fake Service Canada site's request for private information. 

"That's what the investigation will determine. But people should know that we never solicit private information by email."

According to the minister, Service Canada first became aware of the problem from Conservative MP Michael Chong. 

"Somebody in the riding had sent an email to us asking whether or not this was legitimate," Chong told PoliticsWatch. "So our staff looked into it and as soon as we found it wasn't we notified Monte Solberg and the department reacted quite quickly to it."

Chong said the department acted "within 24 hours" to alert the public after they were informed about the scam. 

Solberg said people should contact the RCMP if they believe they have given information to the bogus Service Canada site. 

Service Canada processes Social Insurance Numbers, EI benefits and GST credits. 

Despite this the department has a relatively low-profile and recently launched an extensive advertising campaign to raise awareness about its one-stop service. 

The current ad campaign placement cost is slightly more than $6 million to reach Canadians through their local newspapers, radio, key television stations, and the Internet, according to Service Canada. 

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