Canadians lost $231M in 2021 due to fraud scams

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Data has shown that 2021 was a costly year for scams and frauds in Canada, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC).

The latest figures from the agency show that up until the end of November, 46,604 Canadians were victims of fraud, resulting in a loss of $231 million. There is an increase of $123 million since last year.

“It is very disturbing,” CAFC’s team supervisor Sue Labine told Global News.

There was a disturbing number of COVID-19-related frauds.

Between March 6, 2020 and Nov. 30, 2021 there were 27,330 Canadian victims of fraud for a loss of $7.8 million.

Labine added the majority of frauds involved online purchases or schemes. Which is unfortunate because citizens often had no choice but to go online due to lockdowns.

“More people using the internet generally,” she said. “More people have been shopping online due to COVID.”

Online fraud tops the list

The CAFC has seen an increase in online scams being reported.

“Some of the top ones include:

  • Puppy scams: Puppies are advertised for sale online and a payment is requested before seeing the pup. Often, there is no dog or buyers are sent to a fake address
  • Rental scams: Homes are listed for rent online and again, a rent payment is requested before seeing the property. When the renter arrives at the property there is often someone living there
  • Online product scams: A product is offered for sale, but when payment is made it never appears or if it does, it does not resemble what was advertised.”

Extortion scams

Other scams that have cost Canadians millions include extortion scams. The most common ones are the CRA scam, the border mail scam, and the grandparents scam. These scams involve an intimidating phone call from someone they care about claiming they need help and if the consumer doesn’t pay up, something bad will happen.

Labine said they always use emotion to target their victims and “They prey on fear.” Lebine continues by saying “They’ll tell people that their SIN number has been compromised and is being used for illegal activities and they need to pay now in order not to be charged.”

Labine added scammers try to catch people when they least expect it.

“They have different tactics. For one, they’ll call very early in the morning or late at night and it just so happens that they’ve called at the right time and the person was off guard.”

Don’t be a victim

The CAFC provides guidelines to prevent from getting scammed.

It’s always advised you know who you are sending money to. In a scenario where you are unsure about the accuracy of a purchase, use a credit card as most will reimburse you if you fall victim to a scam. You should always tell your bank if you’re being extorted.

Then there are the three Rs: recognize, reject and report any kind of fraud.

The CAFC can’t take action against fraudsters; however, it can play a very important role in catching them.

“The information that they (victims) provide to us is linked up to the police,” she said.

“And it could link to another report that is undergoing an investigation.”

A CAFC website has up-to-date information on which frauds are most prevalent as well as which ones have taken on a new twist.

This was originally sourced by