The Competition Bureau, in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau, Quebec-based consumers group Option consommateurs and other fraud-prevention partners announced Wednesday the top 10 fraud scams targeting Canadians in 2016.
In terms of the number of complaints received, the hit list is as follows:
1. Employment Scam: $5.3 million lost
This was the most reported scam to BBB Scam Tracker. Chances are you didn't apply for a job you can do from home, much less get an interview. A cheque-cashing scheme that is simply too good to be true.
Advice: Do research on any company before accepting a position; ignore a company that asks you to deposit a cheque.
2. Romance Scams: $17 million lost
Canadians give away a lot of money as they give away their hearts to Catphishers. Catphishing is when a fraudster fakes an identity and tricks someone via dating sites into a phony emotional or romantic relationship for financial gain.
Advice: Do not wire money to someone you've never met.
3. Identity Fraud: $11 million lost
Scammers steal a person's identity to secure credit cards, bank loans and even rent property in that name.
Advice: Never carry your SIN with you; change online passwords regularly.
4. Advance Fee Loan: $1.1 million lost
Paying an up-front fee to get a loan is illegal in Canada and the United States. These scammers prey on those who don't qualify for loans through reputable lenders.
Advice: Seek alternative finance options.
5. Online Purchase Scams:$8.6 million lost
Scammers have new online avenues to take your money and trust.
Counterfeit merchandise, goods that never show up, fake websites and free trial traps are everywhere.
Advice: Shop on legitimate websites; use third party payment portals such as PayPal.
6. Wire Fraud — "Spearphishing:" $13 million lost
Spearphishing is a big problem for the business community. Millions are lost when scammers pose as company brass and demand money be wired to a fake company email.
Advice: Create payment redundancies in your organization; be vigilant on any incoming emails.
7. Binary Options Scam: $7.5 million lost (Investment Fraud)
Big promises of low-risk, high returns, and full refunds entice Canadians to take a chance. It's really just an unregulated 50/50 bet and not investment at all. They delay any winnings, if you win at all, according to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.
Advice: Understand high risk is involved; seek professional investment advice.
8. Fake Lottery Winnings: $3 million lost
If you didn't enter, you didn't win. Calls come in at all hours telling you you've won a big lottery. You just need to pay a tax or insurance fee before you get your millions. It's way too good to be true.
Advice: You do not have to pay to receive lottery winnings; contact the corporation directly.
9. Canada Revenue Agency Scam: $4.3 million lost
While the scam is still being reported, a crackdown on a call centre in India in 2016 has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of calls targeting Canadians.
Advice: The Canada Revenue Agency does not make threatening phone calls; the CRA does not request information by phone or by email.
10. Fake Online Endorsements and Sponsored Content: Amount of money lost unknown
Consumers are often enticed to purchase a product or service based on reviews by social media influencers. Unfortunately, these reviews may not be genuine and the influencer may have been paid by a company to be used as a marketing tool.
Advice: Take everything you read online with a grain of salt, says the Better Business Bureau.