Rise in fraud crimes drives increase in national crime severity

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Jan. 4, 2020 — Statistics Canada found that police-reported crime statistics, measured by the Crime Severity Index (CSI), were on the rise in 2019. The latest nationally collected data on fraud-related crimes showed the rate of police-reported fraud increased for the eighth year in a row, up 10 per cent from 2018 and 64 per cent higher than the rate recorded a decade ago. 

“The prevalence of certain types of fraud has recently been highlighted by the Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (CAFC), particularly general online, telephone or text message scams, such as the “Canada Revenue Agency scam” and prepaid gift card scams,” StatsCan reported. 

Researchers noted some police services said increases in the reporting of fraud were connected to greater use and availability of online options for reporting fraud. The Canadian Anti-fraud Centre (CAFC) estimated a total of 19,285 victims of fraud in 2019 and over $98 million lost due to fraud. It found that just under 166,500 incidents of fraud were reported by police in 2019.

“For the second year in a row, the high volume of fraud offences made it the primary driver behind the increase in the national CSI,” StatsCan said. 

Though this data predates the onset of Covid-19 in Canada, researchers said the initial reporting of police-reported crime incidents were down during the early months of the pandemic, while domestic disturbance calls increased.

“It is important to note that the police-reported crime statistics from 2019 do not reflect the large-scale societal impacts, both nationally and globally, brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.”

StatsCan researchers are conducting a special data collection exercise with a select number of police services from March to December 2020 to address data gaps and provide insight into public safety and crime that occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic.