Recognize Scams to Prevent Them

By Ron Fanfair, Toronto Police Service Published: 2:17 p.m. March 2, 2020
Updated: 11:09 a.m. March 3, 2020

For the first time in four years, the CRA (Canada Revenue Agency) scam didn’t make the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Top 10 Scams in Canada in 2019.

Five men and women standing together
Patrick McKeen, Tyler Fleming, Josephine Palumbo, Insp. Peter Callaghan and Rachel Jolicoeur shared advice on how to prevent fraud

Aggressive fraudsters posing as CRA agents have targetted seniors, telling them they owe money in overdue taxes.

Police have warned anyone who believes they may owe money to call the CRA to confirm and never to share personal information over the phone if someone calls.

“With so much talk in the news and around water coolers, I think consumers don’t feel that they need to report the CRA scam as often  as maybe they did in the past,” said BBB Chief Executive Officer Patrick McKeen at the Toronto Police  Service Financial Crimes Crime Prevention Month launch at police headquarters on March 2.

The BBB used the event to release its annual Risk Report, highlighting the Top 10 Scams in the country.

McKeen said the likelihood of someone falling victim to a scam is based on several factors, including age, experience and how they were contacted. To better understand which scam types posed the highest risk, his organization focussed on assessing the scams based on the volume of scams reports received, the percentage of people who fell for the scam and the median dollar amount of losses reported.

“By using these three factors, we have a more meaningful picture of scam risk that goes beyond merely the number of reports received,” said McKeen.

Travel/Vacation/Timeshare head the list with a median loss of $5,000 followed by Advanced Fee Loan with $1,450 and Romance with $4,000.

A list of top scams
The Better Business Bureau list of Riskiest Scams

The Competition Bureau (CB) launched Fraud Prevention Month 16 years ago to encourage Canadians to recognize, reject and report fraud.

This year’s theme is: Working Together to Combat Fraud.

“This year, working with over 60 partners across Canada, including the Toronto Police Service, we aim to improve awareness among Canadians, consumers and business owners about the dangers of fraud,” said Josephine Palumbo, the CB Deputy Commissioner with responsibility for Deceptive Marketing Practices.”

In 2019, Canadians lost nearly $98 million to fraud.

“We know that scammers can target anyone,” added Palumbo. “Everyone is at risk of fraud from young teens to the elderly, from consumers to big corporations. Statistics also show that Canadians are more connected than ever as our lives take an increasingly digital turn. Our risks of exposure to fraud is heightened.

A woman at a podium
Interac Director of Fraud Prevention & Partnerships Rachel Jolicoeur says being rushed into sending money is a sign of fraud

“…We as law enforcement agencies want to remind Canadians who have been victimized by malicious scammers that there’s no shame in reporting incidents of fraud to the authorities. Reporting suspected fraud is one of the best ways Canadians can help authorities gather evidence and bring down fraudsters. It also helps to better protect other consumers and businesses that might fall prey to fraud in the future.”

Toronto Police Financial Crimes Inspector Peter Callaghan reminded consumers that fraud doesn’t know any barriers with respect to age, gender, socio-economic levels, intellect or cultural groups. 

“We are equally vulnerable to fraudsters that would convince each and every one of us that they are genuine in their request for money,” he said. “However, in all those cases, the result is fraud and great personal loss to the victims involved.”

Later this month, TPS will sponsor an annual shredding event at St. Fidelis School along with the Electronic Recycling Association of Canada and the Ontario Provincial Police.

Interac Director of Fraud Prevention & Partnerships Rachel Jolicoeur encouraged people to never feel rushed to respond to act on a request for money.

Ontario Securities Commission Investor Office Director Tyler Fleming warned consumers to be wary of anyone who is guaranteeing a large return on investments, when only 1 to 1.5% returns on investments can be assured through Guaranteed Investment Certificates.

People who have been approached, or know someone who may have been the victim of these scams, are asked to contact their local police, Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at  222tips.com, text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook. Download the free Crime Stoppers Mobile App on iTunes, Google Play or Blackberry App.

A man at a podium
Ontario Securities Commission Investor Office Director Tyler Fleming urged consumers to research investments thoroughly
TPS crest watermark