A new report shows New Brunswickers were scammed out of $1.6 million in 2020.
The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) says that’s up nearly 30 per cent from the year before.
Unfortunately, the Financial and Consumer Services Commission (FCNB) has reason to believe those numbers could be underrepresented.
Marissa Sollows, director of education and communications with FCNB, says victims are often ashamed to admit they’ve been duped, so they won’t report the crime.
“We want to encourage people not to be embarrassed or afraid to come forward to report a fraud because it does allow us to share the message and share the information with other New Brunswickers to hopefully protect them,” Sollows said.
Last year, scammers seemed to take advantage of the loneliness caused by COVID-19 pandemic health guidelines.
The CAFC report showed that more than $500,000 was lost in romance-based scams.
“When we think about the situation many of us have found ourselves in during the pandemic, we’re more isolated and looking for ways to connect with people online so it may have increased our vulnerability to (romantic) scams,” said Sollows.
More than 350 New Brunswickers reported being scammed last year.
The number one method to trick victims continues to be intimidation. Sollows said that most of the crimes they heard about involved the threat of violence or criminal punishment.
“They may say ‘we’re sending the police to arrest you,’” she said. “They’re using any kind of threat they can to play on our fears, get our emotions running high, and cause us to not think critically about what’s being presented to us.”
Investment scams were also a major source of the $1.6 million lost last year, with the CAFC report showing $865,000 being lost with false investments.
Anyone that believes they are being scammed is encouraged to contact the CAFC, RCMP or the local police department.