Keenan: Men fall victim to scammers more often; up your game to beat them at theirs | #datingscams | #lovescams

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[Robotic voice]: “An unauthorized purchase of an iPhone XR 64 gigabytes for $741 is being ordered from your Amazon account.”

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[Your favourite bank]: “Your account is temporarily locked. Please log in at … to secure your account.”

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[recorded voice] “I am officer Nicky Johnson from the Canada Revenue Agency, and the hotline to my division is… Don’t disregard this message and do return the call before we take any action against you. Goodbye, and take care.”

These are actual examples of scam messages which have been pouring into our phones, tablets, and email inboxes with unprecedented frequency. Companies like major banks, Amazon and WestJet have warned consumers about scams using their corporate identity. In fact, the third example above comes directly from Canada Revenue Agency’s website.

In recent testimony before a House of Commons committee, RCMP director general for the National Cybercrime Co-ordination Unit Chris Lynam noted that the bad guys even watch for announcements of new government rebate programs and “very quickly they’ll be able to figure out how to go and put that scam pitch out to Canadians.”

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It turns out that men make excellent targets for scammers. New research from the United Kingdom reports that “Male scam victims have lost more than twice as much money as females” in a 12-month period. The results from Phoenix Group, which bills itself as “the U.K.’s largest, long-term savings and retirement business,” found that 17 per cent of U.K. consumers fell victim to a scam in the year under study. “Men lost an average of £2,780 each, while women lost £1,133.”

Phoenix Group doesn’t speculate as to why men lost more. However, Myron Jobson of U.K.-based Interactive Investor told The Fintech Times that “Men might be more susceptible to investment fraud because, on average at least, they tend to invest more.” He based those comments on another survey of 12,000 U.K. adults. That study found that “over a third of men (35 per cent) admitted to having been the victim of investment fraud, compared to 22% of women.”

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Whether you are a man, woman or child, you are definitely in the sights of scammers. Retired Calgary Police Service officer Kathy Macdonald is now a consultant, author and frequent speaker on cyber safety topics. Her website ( advises, “The key to being cyber aware is to always be diligent, be skeptical and be kind when you are online.”

After reviewing the U.K. data, Macdonald observed that scammers “often frequent online auctions, retailers or dating websites where financial transactions are routine.” She adds that “from all accounts, these categories of websites also attract a higher percentage of male customers, and as a result, illustrate why men might lose more money to scammers than women.”

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What should you do if you get a questionable email, text, or phone call? Experts advise hanging up on the phone callers and ignoring texts and emails. If you receive scams at work, you should alert your corporate IT security folks. You may want to file a report with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 or via their online system. Most of all, don’t click on any links, open any attachments, or give out any personal information. To find out if the CRA or Amazon is really trying to contact you, reach out to them by phone or online. The key point is that you initiate the contact.

You can try to have some fun with scammers – it’s called scam baiting. Scam baiters often try to get the scammer to send a personal photo that they can post in The Trophy Room at People who contribute these hilarious examples often use pseudonyms, but from what I can tell, most are posted by males, so it appears scambaiting is largely a guy sport.

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As a lightweight version of scam baiting, I have created some replies to those pests who phone you at dinnertime:

Caller: “I am calling from Windows Technical Support, and your computer has a problem.”

Me: “I’m so glad you called. You must be psychic. Before we proceed, please tell me what this message “KERNEL IN PAGE DATA ERROR” means – because I can’t get into my computer, so of course, I can’t go to the malicious website you are going to ask me to visit.”

or Caller: “You have been selected to receive an all-expenses paid vacation.”

Me: “Wonderful! You’ve reached a premium telephone number. It costs $75 to talk to me, and I accept Visa, Mastercard and American Express. Please give me your card number and expiry date now. One woman actually started to give me a (probably stolen) Mastercard number.”

Please don’t go too crazy with this. Remember they have your phone number, and if they get too mad, they might paste it on the wall of that far-away call centre and get their co-workers to harass you. Still, I would love to see them shaking their heads, saying, “The Canadians are all asking for $75 – what can we do?”

Dr. Tom Keenan is an award-winning journalist, public speaker, professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape at the University of Calgary, and author of the best-selling book, Technocreep: The Surrender of Privacy and the Capitalization of Intimacy.

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