5 scams that took the most money out of Canadian pockets last year

Canadians are losing millions each year to a growing variety of complex scams. Based on a report from the Better Business Bureau, we rounded-up the top five cons in Canada from 2017, ranked by the claimed amount of money lost.


Financial loss: More than $20-million
Various phishing scams have been floating around the internet for years. Spear phishing is similar, but instead of random attacks it targets specific individuals based on personal or professional contacts and uses that as a way to lure them in. For instance, an employee getting emailed by somebody who pretends to be the employer’s CEO, directing the employee to wire money, possibly to contribute to a local charity. A “trusted source” could also email you a link to something that might look like an invite to an event but is actually a fake link that allows intruders to hack your computer.


Financial loss: More than $19-million 
Looking for love is hard enough without being robbed while you’re at it, but that’s what’s been happening at an alarming rate through online dating sites in Canada. It usually starts with an online connection being overly complimentary and wanting to meet quickly. This is followed by them suddenly needing financial help to get out of a jam. Don’t send money to people like this for any reason, and you’re encouraged to report it if you do fall victim or suspect you’re the target of a romance scammer.


Financial loss: More than $13-million
This was the most reported scam of the year based on the BBB’s scam tracker, and it’s understandable as it covers a seemingly endless range of possible frauds. Counterfeit goods, fake free trial offers and phony third-party sites are just the tip of the iceberg. Be vigilante and watch out for these warning signs when shopping online.


Financial loss: More than $5-million 
This one targets people who are looking for a job and uses that vulnerability against them. You will see what looks like a legitimate job ad, but shortly after applying you might be contacted via email saying you’re hired, even without a meeting or interview. The “employer” will then ask you to submit your personal information for their records. This was the most reported scam to the BBB in 2016 and is still an active threat.


Financial loss: More than $5-million 
The first half of 2018 saw a spike in reports from Canadians receiving calls from somebody claiming to be from the Canada Revenue Agency, accusing them of owing taxes. More recently, a new version of the scam has started showing up. You receive an email that begins with “Dear Tax Payer”, which proceeds to explain that the CRA has sent you an INTERAC e-Transfer of a set amount, presumably a refund of sorts, and in order to deposit the money you need to click on a link at the bottom of the page. Don’t click on it. The CRA clearly states they do not email people and ask them to divulge personal information via a link. Instead, they advise checking your online account or calling them directly if you have any concerns.


CPA Canada’s 2018 fraud survey showed that fears of identity theft are rising and Canadians are showing less faith in businesses to keep their personal information secure. For more on keeping your personal data safe check out our guidebook, Protecting you and your money: A guide to avoiding identity theft and fraud.




Comments are closed.