Employment

Here are the Better Business Bureau’s top 10 scams of 2016

Employment, online dating and online shopping tricks hit Canadians the most.

Canadians lost more than $90 million to online and over-the-phone scams in 2016 –  the highest in recent years, according to the Better Business Bureau of Canada.

The BBB released Tuesday the 10 best-of-the-worst types of fraud, based on what was most commonly reported through the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre and the BBB Scam Tracker website.

RELATED: The millions of scam emails that sneak through spam filters

The scam that hit people the hardest was through online dating, swindling $17 million out of the hands of Canadians last year. A fraudster would use a fake identity in an online dating profile to earn a potential victim’s trust and eventually ask for money or even steal things.

Another lucrative scheme was identity fraud, totalling $11 million reported lost.

Canada Revenue Agency fraudsters are also still popular, netting $4.3 million last year — an increase of nearly 50 per cent from the year before.

“The positive takeaway right now is that there appears to be more reporting going on, which would explain some of the increase in money lost,” said BBB CEO Danielle Primrose. “But at the end of the day, it still only represents at most five per cent of what was actually taken from Canadians.”

Primrose urged Canadians to be diligent and read things they find on the Internet with a grain of salt.

She also noted that a call centre in India allegedly behind a nationwide Canada Revenue Agency scam was raided in October, which made a bit of a dent in their efforts. But it was reportedly re-invented in December, with fraudsters attempting to re-scam previous victims by promising to return their lost money, for a small fee.

“There is a lot more work to be done and a lot more awareness to be raised and a lot more reporting to do,” she said. “Don’t be ashamed. Let someone know if you’ve been scammed.”

Top 10 scams of 2016, based on what was most reported:

1. Employment scams: $5.3 million reportedWhen scammers court people through LinkedIn and other job sites, or over the phone, offering a job and sometimes going as far to interview the potential victim. Then, the fraudster asks for forms to be filled out, sends a fake cheque and asks for the potential victim to withdraw the money – before the cheque bounces. Canadian banks are not responsible for the money lost.

2. Online dating scams: $17 million reportedAlso known as ‘cat fishing,’ this scam occurs when a fraudster takes on a fake identity, earns the potential victim’s trust, and eventually starts asking for money.

3. Identity fraud: $11 million reportedWhen social insurance numbers are stolen, or passwords to bank accounts are figured out. This can be avoided by changing passwords on a regular basis, and never carrying around a SIN card.

4. Advance fee loans: $1.1 million reportedWhen scammers target those who aren’t approved for loans elsewhere and ask for a security deposit to release the funds. Paying an upfront fee for a loan is illegal in Canada.

5. Online purchase scams: $8.6 million reportedWhen fraudsters sell counterfeit merchandise, or goods that never show up, or offer fake free trials.

6. Wire fraud: $13 million reportedAlso known as ‘spear-phishing,’ when scammers target businesses for bills they may owe, asking them to immediately wire money to fake bank accounts.

7. Binary option scams: $7.5 million reportedWhen non-registered brokers sell stock, by advertising trading systems under multiple names and fake testimonials.

8. Fake lottery winnings: $3 million reportedWhen fraudsters ask victims to pay a small fee for their “winnings” to be released.

9. Canada Revenue Agency scam: $4.3 million reportedWhen someone claiming to be from the CRA calls and tells the potential victim that they have made an error on their tax return or neglected to file it, and then asks for financial or banking information to settle an alleged debt.

10. Fake online endorsements and sponsored content: UnknownAlso known as ‘astro-turfing,’ when scammers offer to write fake online endorsements of a product or service as if they are ordinary consumers.


@ashwadhwaniashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.caLike us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Buy-Low helps Highway Rescue

Clearwater and District Highway Rescue gets $1,000 the store won in Dairyland contest

VIDEO: Researchers rely on drones to survey aftermath of B.C. wildfires

UBC researchers are using aerial drones to study the historic 2017 wildfires in the province

Report gives details on proposal to relocate Grade 7s

According to the report, there has been some interest generated in the communities to relocate

This weekend at the Sportsplex

Here is the schedule for the North Thompson Sportsplex for the weekend of Dec. 15 – 17

Province rejects Ajax mine in Kamloops

KGHM Ajax had proposed a 1,700-hectare open-pit copper and gold mine, just southwest of Kamloops

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Family suspends search for missing Alberta couple, plane near Revelstoke

Due to bad weather, families of missing Albertan couple say they will resume in the spring

Canadian grocers make $3M per year from penny-rounding: UBC study

Ottawa announced plans in 2012 to phase out the copper coin

Sagmoen neighbours recall alleged hammer attack

Woman was screaming outside Maple Ridge townhouse in 2013

B.C. anti-hate campaigner finds Google search on his efforts redirects to porn

Text from online news article about Cran Campbell being used to link to suspect websites

‘The Last Jedi’ opens with $220M, 2nd best weekend all-time

As anticipated, the movie fell shy of the opening weekend for J.J. Abrams’ 2015 franchise reboot

2 couples tie the knot in Australia’s 1st same-sex weddings

West Australian couple Anne Sedgwick, Lyn Hawkins have been together for 40 years

B.C. concert promoter bans Nazi symbols at shows

A man was witnessed making a Nazi salute during a heavy metal show at Pub 340

Most Read