Learn how to recognize, reject, and report scams to protect yourself

Fraudsters have gotten more and more creative with how they try and trick people out of their money or identity which means there are lots of different scams out there. These are just some of the scams that have gained popularity in the past year.

Romance scams

Don’t fool around with fraudsters

Do you use online dating apps or websites? Keep an eye out for fraudsters who say they’re looking for love but really, just want to trick you out of your money.

If someone is a fraudster, they may try to lower your defenses by appealing to your romantic and compassionate side or try to use your emotions against you. Always be suspicious and ask questions to ensure you’re not getting scammed.

If the person you’re talking to is doing any of these things – start waving red flags:

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Someone you’ve never met in person professes their love for you

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If they always have an excuse to not meet in person or turn their camera on during a video chat

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Receiving messaging with poor spelling/grammar even calling you by the wrong name

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They act distressed or angry and ask you to send money. Sometimes it starts for small amounts, and requests begin to get larger and larger.

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The person doesn't want you talking about them or their situation with your family or friends.

Investment scams

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is

Ever hear the phrase ‘get rich quick’, or ‘this will double your money in no time’? Chances are whatever those people were talking about when using these phrases was an investment scam. These scams promise to make you more money, but the truth is they’ll only make your money disappear.

There are different kinds of investment fraud but at its core it’s when someone tries to get you to make an investment with your money or assets based on false or misleading information.

When thinking about investing in something new, watch for these warning signs:

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Does the opportunity claim you can make a lot of money with little or no risk?

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Did the person say they have insider information or gives you a “hot tip”

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You feel pressured to decide – that the opportunity won’t last

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The seller isn't registered with the provincial securities regulator

Emergency/Grandparent scams

If you receive a phone call from someone claiming to be a loved one who’s hurt or in trouble and they need money immediately, be on your guard! This could be a scammer who’s trying to take your money by pretending to be a family member or friend. 

Grandparents tend to be the main target of these fraudsters. They will contact a grandparent by phone, email or even text message, claim to be their grandchild and say they need money quickly. Sometimes, there are even two people on the phone, one pretending to be a grandchild and the other a person of authority like a police officer or lawyer.

These are just a few of the scenarios they might say has happened:

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Car accident

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Getting locked up in jail

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Trouble returning home from a foreign country

If you are contacted like this it’s best not to panic. Here’s how you can recognize if you’re being scammed:

  1. Verify the story – contact the child’s parents or friends to find out their whereabouts

  2. Ask questions only your loved one would know the answer to

  3. If they’re asking for money or personal information – and there’s a sense of urgency

  4. They swear you to secrecy – not wanting other family members/friends to know because they’re embarrassed

Charity scams

Are you a person who likes to donate to charities? Make sure your generosity isn’t being taken advantage of by fraudsters. If you receive a request for a donation from a charity, association, federation or religious cause either by phone, in person or email make sure to check that the organization is legitimate. 

Scammers will create a fake charity or even use a real charity but keep all the donations for themselves. They may have counterfeit letters or other fake materials to make it seem like they are legit and will play on your emotions attempting to guilt you into giving. 

For example, they may use a recent natural disaster or claim they are from a charity that helps animals or sick children. In 2022 the Canadian Anti-Fraud Center received multiple reports of charity scams related to the situation in Ukraine, where scammers were attempting to use it to their advantage.

Here are some things you can do to check, reject and protect yourself from charity scams:

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The Canadian Revenue Agency has a list of all registered charities in Canada – check to see if the organization asking for donations is on this list: CRA Registered charities database

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Contact the Better Business Bureau to see if they have any information about the charity in question: Better Business Bureau Directory

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Never give your credit card number or bank account numbers over the phone unless you made the call and the phone number belongs to a trusted source

Phishing & Smishing

Fraudsters will use lures through email and text messages to try and get you to bite on their scams, but don’t get reeled in! 

Phishing or smishing messages often look like they’re coming from a recognizable institution or company, like a: 

  • Bank

  • Online subscription services (i.e. Netflix, Amazon)

  • Business (could be local)

  • Government department or agency (federal or provincial)

These messages will typically ask you to provide or verify your personal or financial information – such as your credit card number, passwords or your social insurance number through a link that they want you to click on. If you receive a message like this – DON’T click on the link, do some research first.

How to recognize phishing/smishing:

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Look for bad spelling or grammar in the email

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Hover over who the email is from or any links to see what address it’s coming from and check if it’s accurate

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Organizations will typically never ask for your personal information through email or text – if you receive a message asking for this info delete it

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The subject of the message pertains to current events, for example: Ukraine relief efforts, cryptocurrency, COVID19, etc.

There is a more popular version of phishing that fraudsters have been using called spear phishing – this is very similar to phishing except the scammers leverage existing relationships like your boss, the CEO of your company or a business. The kicker with these messages is the sender’s address appears to be the actual email address of the source they’re pretending to be.

If you suspect that you or a loved one has been a victim of fraud – reach out to us, we can help!

By reporting a scam, you help law enforcement catch the fraudsters and protect others from getting scammed in the future.