March 30, 2021 – As Fraud Prevention Month comes to an end, it’s important timely to review the most common frauds and scams targeting Canada.
In 2020, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre received 101,483 fraud reports involving nearly $160 million in reported losses. Moreover, 67,294 of the reports were from Canadian consumers and businesses, that reported losses totalling more than $104.2 million. It is estimated that fewer than 5 per cent of victims file a fraud report with the CAFC.
Top 10 frauds affecting Canadians based on number of reports in 2020
- Extortion occurs when someone unlawfully obtains money, property or services from a person, entity, or institution through coercion. Ongoing extortion scams include: bomb threat, denial of service, explicit video, hitman, hostage, hydro, immigration, ransomware, extortion, taxpayer or CRA, Telephone calls targeting the Asian community.
- Identity Fraud occurs when criminals use stolen personal information. It is often used to commit another crime. Criminals can use your stolen or reproduced information to: access your computer/email, your bank accounts, open new bank accounts, transfer bank balances, apply for loans and credit cards, buy goods and services, hide their criminal activities or get passports or receive government benefits
- Personal Information scams occur when a scammer, pretending to be from a business, government agency, a bank, or utility company, urgently asks you to verify your personal information. They may request information such as your name, address, birth date, account information and/or Social Insurance Number (SIN)
- Phishing occurs when a scammer sends an email that appears to be from a recognizable institution or company such as a bank or online subscription service such as Netflix or Amazon. The email may claim that you need to update your account or that your tax refund is ready. Whatever the message is, the email is an attempt to trick you into providing your personal or financial information.
- Merchandise fraud often occurs through fake advertisements online (though classified ads sites, resale sites, website pop-ups or fake company websites) for goods. Some items offered for sale may be: event tickets, puppies, electronic equipment, clothing, rentals, vehicles.
- Victim vendor: if you’ve posted an online ad for yourself or your business, you may be contacted by a scammer. They claim to be located out of town and offer to buy the item unseen. When it comes time to pay, they use various tactics to scam you and avoid paying.
- Job scams occur when someone is looking for a job.
- Service scams include: financial services, telecommunications, insurance, tech support scams and immigration scams.
- Spear Phishing scams involve scammers pretending to be from legitimate sources to convince businesses or individuals to send them money. These scams leverage existing relationships between the person receiving the email and the person sending it. The sender’s address appears to be the actual email address of the source they’re pretending to be, a tactic known as spoofing. Scams include: business executive spoofs, financial industry client spoof, head office spoof, payroll spoof and supplier/contractor swindle.
- Emergency scams prey on your fear of a loved one being hurt or in trouble. Scammers claim to be someone you know and tell you they need money immediately. Scenarios they may use include: needing bail money because they’ve been arrested, being in a car accident or trouble returning from a foreign country.
CAFC Note: Scams soliciting personal information and phishing do not involve financial losses and the majority of people who are victims of identity fraud are not responsible for the fraud losses.
Top 10 frauds affecting Canadians based on dollar loss in 2020
While the start of April means the end of Fraud Prevention Month, Canadian police and authorities are warning citizens to stay alert of potential fraud and scams in their community.
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