Each year, officers in the North East Region investigate more than 700 calls relating to Fraud. Unfortunately, in many of these cases, people have fallen victim to the scam, losing money in the process.
The CAFC estimates that they only receive information about 5% of fraud that occurs in Canada. They identify four of the top scams in 2018 in Canada as:
- Extortion – 23,734 complaints, over $10.2 million in losses;
- Phishing – 6,695 complaints, over $120,000 in losses;
- Romance – 1,075 complaints, over $22.5 million in losses; and
- Wire Fraud – 355 complaints, over $12.5 million in losses.
Extortion – Fraudsters call consumers impersonating the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) claiming a recent audit has identified discrepancies from past filed taxes. Repayment is required immediately. Fraudsters threaten consumers that failure to pay will result in additional fees and/or jail time. Fraudsters often request payment by a money service business or pre‐paid cards or gift cards (iTunes).
Phishing – Traditional phishing emails are designed to trick the victim into thinking they are dealing with a reputable company. Emails are sent with the intentions of capturing personal information and/or financial information, which can be used for identity fraud.
Romance – The scammer will gain the trust of the victim through displays of affection and will communicate via phone, skype and email for months if needed to build trust. The scammer will often claim to be working abroad, usually in a lucrative business venture. Eventually the scammer will want to meet with the victim in person. It is at this time that the scammer will inform they cannot afford to travel and will ask for money to cover travel costs.
Wire Fraud – In the Business Executive Scam (BES), also known as the Business Email Compromise, the potential victim receives an email that appears to come from an executive in their company who has the authority to request wire transfers. In some cases, the fraudsters create an email addresses that mimics that of the CEO or CFO. In other cases, the fraudsters have compromised and used the email account belonging to the CEO or CFO. The spoofed email message will be sent to an employee that has authorization to conduct wire transfers. The email will indicate that the “executive” is working off‐site and has identified an outstanding payment that needs to be paid as soon as possible. The “executive” instructs the payment be made and provides a name and a bank account where the funds, generally a large dollar amount, are to be sent.
Losses are typically in excess of $100,000.
Regardless of age, gender or location, everyone can take basic steps to better protect themselves from becoming a victim of fraud. Some basic tips include never giving out personal or financial information at the door, over the phone, by e-mail or through social media, or on to unsecured retail or dating websites. Don’t click on anything that you didn’t initiate – such as a link in an email or text message. If you do fall victim to a scam, individuals are urged to continue to report these scams to police even if a financial transaction did not occur.
Fraud Prevention Month is about the fraud prevention community working together to create greater awareness and to highlight the various ways that all Canadians are being targeted by fraud. By emphasizing the education component, Canadians can be better prepared. So please continue to talk about fraud with people of all ages – your children, parents, neighbours, friends and customers.
If you or someone you know suspect they’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your local police service and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by phone or online by creating an account in the Fraud Reporting System (FRS).