The year 2021 has barely begun, but 21,484 fraud reports have been reported to the authorities. In total, financial fraud represents a sum of more than $ 50 million.
The schemes used by fraudsters to achieve their goals are numerous and the paths taken to reach their victims are diverse. In face-to-face, by post, on the internet or over the phone, fraudsters do not spare any means to reach their targets. Canada’s anti-fraud website lists over 80 different categories of fraudulent schemes. Fraudsters use every conceivable pretext. They bounce back quickly and refine their techniques. In fact, between March 6, 2020 and February 28, 2021, more than 13,553 COVID-19 related frauds were reported to Canadian authorities. This represents a financial loss totalling more than $ 7.2 million.
Fraudulent call for prize money
You receive a call informing you that you have won a prize? Caution is required as there is a well-crafted scam whose purpose is fraudulent. This variant targets seniors. They receive a call from a so-called representative of Reader’s Digest or Publishers Clearing House. The scammer informs them that they have won a car or money and that in order to get their prize they have to pay a minimal fee corresponding to taxes, legal fees or delivery or shipping costs.
Taxpayers or Canada Revenue Agency
For this scheme, the fraudster poses as an employee of the Canada Revenue Agency or Service Canada and claims that:
- your social insurance number has been compromised;
- you are the subject of a lawsuit;
- you have tax arrears to pay;
- you have overdue balances;
- you have committed a financial crime.
They warn you that if you don’t speak to them immediately, you will be arrested, fined, or even deported from the country. Hang up. Please be aware that the Canada Revenue Agency does not communicate with taxpayers in this way.
This fraud targets the general population. You receive an email that appears to be from a recognizable organization or business, such as a bank or an online subscription service like Netflix or Amazon. The email informs you that you need to update your account or that your tax refund is ready. Whatever the message, it is intended to get you to provide personal or financial information. Also, you may receive a phishing email with little text to trick you into clicking on links or attachments. The email may appear to contain a receipt for a recent purchase, a delivery notice, or a more urgent message, such as a notice of appearance. If you click on the link or attachment, a virus or malware will infect your computer.
Since the start of the pandemic, the CAFC has seen an increase in online scams targeting people who are alone due to lockdown and travel restrictions. This includes scams that target people looking for companionship or love on dating sites and social media. In 2020, these scams cost Canadians more than $ 18.5 million.
How to protect yourself?
First, remember that if the situation presented to you sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t! Don’t be afraid to say no and cut off all communications. Do your own research, multiply the checks. Beware of unsolicited calls asking for your personal information, never give out your personal information unless you dialed the number.
Beware of the upfront fees. Some scammers will ask you to pay a fee before receiving goods, services, or a prize. It is illegal for a business to charge upfront fees before giving you a loan. In addition, in Canada, there are no fees or taxes that apply to the prices. If you win something, you get it for free.
Remember that the frauds mentioned in this article represent only a brief sampling of the frauds in effect. Remember that caution is required in all circumstances. If you believe you are the victim of fraud, contact the police immediately.
Source: Canadian Anti-Fraud Center