A new study shows Canada is experiencing an unprecedented surge in online scams.
A record $380 million was stolen in 2021, up more than double from $165 million in 2020, and while Quebec had the fifth most complaints among provinces and territories at 258 per 100,000 residents, Quebecers lost among the least money with an average of $1,757 per scam. Ontario victims lost the most at $3,010 per incident.
The alarming trend is a by-product of COVID-19, technology and globalization as people increasingly work, bank, date, and shop online. The data is in line with global trends as the U.S., U.K. and Australian governments are reporting similar increases, according to Social Catfish, a California-based consumer protection and people search company.
The company released a study on the record surge of scams after analyzing five years of data from the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre from 2017-2021.
They found that the most scammed age group was 60-69 losing $81,384, followed surprisingly by Canadians 40-49, with victims losing $78,954. (This is against global trends as younger people are normally more tech-savvy.)
The three biggest scams are investment ($165 million lost), romance ($134 million), and extortion ($54 million)
Investment Scams: Cybercriminals offer once-in-a-lifetime investment opportunities via email and social media that promise high rates of return at little to no risk. Once you “invest” you never see your money again. Cryptocurrency scams are red hot.
How to Avoid: Research the person and company and consult a third-party financial expert.
Romance Scams: Scammers target online singles on dating apps and social media sites and shower them with love and affection to earn their trust. Then they begin asking for money for emergencies and the victims are left heartbroken and penniless.
How to Avoid: Do not give money to anyone if they will not meet in person or video chat.
Extortion Scams: Fake RCMP emails are in heavy circulation accusing people of serious criminal charges. They tell them to respond to a fake law enforcement email address where they ask for payment and other personal information to avoid going to jail.
How to Avoid: Law enforcement will never demand payment or threaten arrest by email or phone.
For more information about online scams in Canada, visit: https://socialcatfish.com/scamfish/which-canadian-provinces-have-the-most-online-scams/