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

Trail Smoke Eaters grind out win over Vernon Vipers

Trail Smoke Eaters Kent Johnson scored the game winner in a 3-2 victory over the Vernon Vipers

Tea, crafts, music and dance this weekend in Greater Trail

Grapevine: Events in the Trail area for the week of Nov. 15 to Nov. 21

Car accident prompts advisory from Greater Trail RCMP

Extrication by regional firefighters; driver and passenger walked away with minor injuries

Trail mayor announces task force to address crime

Coun. Sandy Santori was appointed to the Community Safety Task Force

Castlegar’s Waterline property purchased; owners to protect it for rock climbers

New owners plan to subdivide, sell bluffs to recreational climbing group

Extreme Education and Career Fair helps give back to the community

It’s estimated that there will be one million job vacancies in the next nine years in B.C.

Toronto private school didn’t report alleged sexual assault to police

Police say a sexual assault at an all-boys Catholic institution was not reported to them

China says butt out; Canada calls for release of “arbitrarily” detained Muslims

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman accused Canada’s envoy of going beyond their diplomatic roles

Dead Saskatoon tattoo artist’s skin removed and preserved

The skin was removed in honour of the well known artist’s work

B.C. Realtor suspended after helping intern forge note about sick grandma

Vancouver real estate agent Jaideep Singh Puri has to pay fine, take ethics course

Offensive Facebook post by Okanagan Conservative riding sparks outrage

Post taken down after Conservative MP in neighbouring riding condemns it and demands removal

Judge rules against ALC on rural B.C. subdivision

The ALC can’t change the definition of an acre, the judge ruled.

John Horgan shrugs off low turnout, change to referendum option

‘No’ proportional representation group says voting should be extended

Two more government pot shops to open in Kamloops

Two private applications are also in the queue to come before city council by the end of the year

Most Read