Investment scams are nothing new, but over the past few years, they have exploded across Canada.
According to data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC), the amount of money reported lost to investment scams has multiplied by nearly 20 times from 2019 to 2023.
“Unfortunately, investment scams have been one of the main factors in the sharp increase in reported money loss to the CAFC in the last few years,” said Jeff Horncastle, a CAFC spokesperson in an email to CTV News.
“The CAFC estimates that over 50 per cent of investment fraud reports and money loss are associated to fraudulent crypto investment platforms.”
The CAFC says they received 489 reports of investment fraud from 388 Canadian victims, totalling more than $15.7 million in 2019.
In 2023, the centre received 4,010 reports from 3,631 victims for a total of $309.3 million.
“Typical investment frauds offer get rich quick opportunities and higher than normal returns. These frauds often result in investors losing most, or all, of their money,” said Horncastle.
“The majority of the investment scam reports involve Canadians investing in cryptocurrency after seeing a deceptive advertisement online.”
Statistics specifically for Ontario paint a similar picture in terms of the growing issue of investment scams. In 2019 the CAFC received 145 reports from 124 victims totalling a little more than $4.5 million
Four years later, that annual total has swelled to 1,341 reports with nearly $111.3 million in losses.
“Ontarians are giving money away at an alarming rate and its large sums,” said Det. Shaun Wahbeh with the Ottawa Police Services (OPS) Organized Fraud Section.
According to OPS, an average of one or two cases of investment fraud are reported in the capital every single day.
“These are people that are reporting. Frauds tend to go unreported because of embarrassment, shame or people just want to forget about it,” said Wahbeh.
“They average from $50,000 to the highest, which is $4 million.”
For those who have fallen victim of investment scams, the situation can be devastating.
Victoria Lloyd and her husband Doug were recently robbed of more than $177,000 through a line of credit in a cryptocurrency scam.
“It’s just horrible. You can’t even sleep at night. I’ve been having a hard time sleeping for the last couple of months now,” said Victoria Lloyd.
“It’s just not fair that we worked for all of our lives. I worked for almost 40 years in the government and now all of our money is going to pay the interest on this line of credit that somebody else took.”
This article was originally sourced from www.CTVNews.ca