Recent reporting from CTV News describes the top five scams that Canadians fell for in 2021
Even though many overseas scam boiler rooms and call centers closed down at the beginning of the pandemic, Canadians spent more time online or on social media, which made many people more vulnerable to investment fraud, romance scams, and other online criminal activity. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre said that fraudsters continue to become more sophisticated and unfortunately many Canadians are losing millions of dollars to online criminal acts.
Investment scams were the top scam in Canada in 2021. Sue Labine, who is the call centre supervisor for the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) told CTV News that a collective $70.2 million was reported lost to this scam.
- Investment scammers create fake accounts and websites advising people to invest their money in various cryptocurrencies. The fraudulent websites are made to look very credible, and in combination with the confusing landscape of cryptocurrency and the desire to “get rich quick”, they are often successful.
Romance scams took second place last year, with a reported loss of $42.2 million.
- Criminals create fake profiles on social media and dating sites using stolen photos with the intent to establish a virtual relationship, eventually asking for money. Some of these romance scams happen quickly when criminals prey on people’s loneliness and vulnerability, but Criminals have also been known to invest years of time and effort to develop the relationship, asking for money over long periods.
Spearfishing or Email Phishing scams came in third, with a reported loss of $38 million.
- Hackers carefully tailor attacks to their victims by collecting publicly available personal information about them and playing to their sense of urgency or importance to get a response. A lot of the time the goal of the attack is to capture account credentials, allowing the hacker to move laterally across the company, and ransom an entire organization. Check out our many articles on email security and phishing scams.
The number four scam of 2021 is Merchandising and Non-delivery of merchandise scams at $5.6 million in losses.
- In a merchandising or vendor scam, criminals use classified ads to sell or buy goods in order to steal personal information. Often the scammer claims to be located out of town and offers to buy the item unseen. When it comes time to pay, they use various tactics to scam you and avoid paying.
- Non-delivery of merchandise is a scheme most often linked to Internet auction fraud, in which a seller on an Internet auction website accepts payment for an item and intentionally fails to ship it. Sellers like these sometimes will relist the item in order to attempt to sell it again through a different username.
Coming in at number five is Service scams at $4.8 million in losses.
- Scammers pretend to offer a service, such as a phone plan or insurance service, with the intent to steal your personal information and gain access to your bank or credit card account.
Keep in mind that these numbers only reflect losses reported to the Anti-Fraud Centre, many financial losses are not reported due to embarrassment or unawareness that they have fallen victim to an online scam. Officials encourage the public to report any online fraud as it can aid them in tracking criminal activity and helps raise awareness to order to prevent others from falling victim to the same scams. The CAFC has a long list of tips to help Canadians stay safe this holiday season.