The dollar loss attributed to fraud and scams in Canada ballooned nearly 2.5 times between 2019 and 2021.
According to the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre, people were scammed out of $102 million in 2019, nearly $103 million in 2020, and $269 million last year. The top five scams involve investments, romance scams, spearphishing (targeted phishing), extortion and merchandising.
Corp. Vinh Ngo with B.C. RCMP federal policing prevention and engagement notes the dramatic increase was not due to a jump in the number of reports made to law enforcement.
“People were still victimized, but victimized at a higher cost,” explained Ngo.
Criminals use a variety of methods such as phone, text, email, and social media phishing, mail, and even in-person scams, Ngo told a joint RCMP/Uptown Rutland Business Association fraud information session in Kelowna.
He said the best way to handle a scam phone call is to hang up and immediately delete suspect emails, texts and social media posts. Ngo also suggested strong passwords if you believe your email or social media accounts may have been compromised.
“Security companies have used tech and software to brute force solve an eight-number password instantly. A mix of numbers, letters, and symbols was solved in just 39 minutes.”
It’s recommended that any password you use be 16 to 21 characters long.
“Using a mix of characters it would take hackers 92 billion years to crack your password,” added Ngo. So experts have recommended using phrases.”
More concerning to Ngo is the increasing use of “shallow fake” and “deep fake” scams. Simply put, shallow fake is essentially manual manipulation of media content, while deep fake uses automated, iterations of machine learning software.
Ngo noted a shallow fake fraud that imitated the voice of the CEO of a European company that fooled an employee into making an unauthorized financial transaction. Deep fake examples are plentiful on the internet.
Establishing, maintaining, and continually updating security protocols for businesses is vital, added Ngo.