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Top 10 scams targeting Canadians in terms of number of complaints received

MONTREAL _ The Competition Bureau, in conjunction with the Better Business Bureau, Quebec-based consumers group Option consommateurs and other fraud-prevention partners announced Wednesday the top 10 fraud scams targeting Canadians in 2016. In terms of the number of complaints received, the hit list is as follows:

1. Employment Scam: $5.3 million lost

The most reported scam to BBB Scam Tracker. Chances are you didn’t apply for a job you can do from home, much less get an interview. A cheque-cashing scheme that is simply too good to be true.

Advice: Do research on any company before accepting a position; ignore a company that asks you to deposit a cheque.

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2. Romance Scams: $17 million lost

Canadians give away a lot of money as they give away their hearts to Catphishers. Catphishing is when a fraudster fakes an identity and tricks someone via dating sites into a phony emotional or romantic relationship for financial gain.

Advice: Do not wire money to someone you’ve never met

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3. Identity Fraud: $11 million lost

Scammers steal a person’s identity to secure credit cards, bank loans and even rent property in that name.

Advice: Never carry your SIN with you; change online passwords regularly.

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4. Advance Fee Loan: $1.1 million lost

Paying an up-front fee to get a loan is illegal in Canada and the United States. These scammers prey on those who don’t qualify for loans through reputable lenders.

Advice: Seek alternative finance options.

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5. Online Purchase Scams: $8.6 million lost

Scammers have new online avenues to take your money and trust. Counterfeit merchandise, goods that never show up, fake websites and free trial traps are everywhere.

Advice: Shop on legitimate websites; use third party payment portals such as PayPal.

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6. Wire Fraud _ “Spearphishing:” $13 million lost

Spearphishing is a big problem for the business community. Millions are lost when scammers pose as company brass and demand money be wired to a fake company email.

Advice: Create payment redundancies in your organization; be vigilant on any incoming emails.

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7. Binary Options Scam: $7.5 million lost (Investment Fraud)*

Big promises of low-risk, high returns, and full refunds entice Canadians to take a chance. It’s really just an unregulated 50/50 bet and not investment at all. They delay any winnings…if you win at all.

Advice: Understand high risk is involved; seek professional investment advice.

*Source: Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre

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8. Fake Lottery Winnings: $3 million lost

If you didn’t enter…you didn’t win. Calls come in at all hours telling you you’ve won a big lottery. You just need to pay a tax or insurance fee before you get your millions. It’s way too good to be true.

Advice: You do not have to pay to receive lottery winnings; contact the corporation directly.

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9. Canada Revenue Agency Scam: $4.3 million lost

While the scam is still being reported, a crackdown on a call centre in India in 2016 has seen a dramatic decrease in the number of calls targeting Canadians.

Advice: The Canada Revenue Agency does not make threatening phone calls; the CRA does not request information by phone or by email.

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10. Fake Online Endorsements and Sponsored Content: Amount of Money Lost Unknown

Consumers are often enticed to purchase a product or service based on reviews by social media influencers. Unfortunately, these reviews may not be genuine and the influencer may have been paid by a company to be used as a marketing tool.

Advice: Take everything you read online with a grain of salt

Source: Better Business Bureau

‘Giant denial’ about fraud risk in corporate Canada, warns ex-RCMP investigator

‘Giant denial’ about fraud risk in corporate Canada, warns ex-RCMP investigator

Shane McNeil,

Canadian businesses are in the midst of “a dangerous combination of overconfidence and naiveté when it comes to detecting fraud,” according to a new survey.

Half of Canadian businesses “either suspect or know for certain that their business has experienced fraud or scams in the last year,” according to a survey by Ipsos Reid conducted on behalf of tax and business consultant MNP.

However, the same study revealed that 80 per cent of the businesses polled are confident they can put a stop to it. The number of businesses that feel “at least somewhat” able to deal with fraud was even higher at 90 per cent. Twice as many respondents believed fraud was an industry problem than those that believed it was an issue with their own companies.

“This kind of ‘it won’t happen to me’ optimism puts the advantage in the hands of criminals and makes Canadian businesses tremendously vulnerable,” said Greg Draper, MNP’s vice-president of valuations, forensics and litigation support, in a release.

“The reality is that no organization is immune from either internal or external fraud.”

Draper, a former RCMP investigator, added there is a “giant denial” in Canada when it comes to preventing business fraud.

“Fraudsters will go to great lengths to assume the identity of company executives or trusted vendors; spoofing company email messages, researching employees who are responsible for money management and using language specific to the company being targeted,” said Lynn Danis, criminal intelligence analyst with the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, in a release. “Ultimately, fraud prevention falls on the business.”

The survey polled a combination of small business executives and C-suite execs from companies with 100 or more employees over a 10-day span in January.


Fraud intervention: Identifying and Preventing Financial Fraud

Financial fraud continues to evolve; it’s more sophisticated, harder to detect, and takes advantage of people’s emotions like fear and excitement. According to a recent TD survey, 85 per cent of Canadians worry about themselves or their loved ones becoming a victim of financial fraud. More than one-third (37 per cent) worry that their elderly family members are too trusting, and that their children are unaware of the risks.

“Debit card, credit card and cheque fraud are more common because of sophisticated approaches that target emotion as well as transactions,” says Mushtak Najarali, Senior Vice President of Everyday Banking Products at TD Bank Group. “Prevention and protection are key to fighting financial fraud, and so is the relationship between customers and their financial institution. Both parties working together is the best first line of defense to help identify and avoid financial fraud.”

Many Canadians know the basics of protecting themselves from financial fraud. In fact, less than 10 per cent will share their PIN or SIN with a stranger, provide their credit card number on an unsecure site, or click an unknown link in a text message. But as fraudsters become more sophisticated, they now try to trick consumers into sharing sensitive information like passwords, and bank account and credit card numbers. And there are a lot of ways for fraudsters to get this information, such as e-mails disguised as legitimate communications (phishing), communications appearing to be from a trusted source (spoofing), telephone calls (vishing), text messages (smishing) and devices (skimming) that steal your information.

When it comes to fighting fraud, consumers, businesses and merchants all have a part to play. “Regardless of size or sector, all businesses can take steps to protect themselves and their customers against financial fraud,” says Dennis Parker, Vice President, Business Deposits and Cash Management Services, TD Bank Group. “We encourage our clients to work closely with us to put appropriate safeguards in place for all aspects of their business that involve online, mobile and in-person transactions.”

As fraud schemes continue to become more sophisticated and play on emotions, here are some tips from TD to help fight financial fraud.

For consumers:

  • Pay attention to your fraud alerts – Banks are increasingly using text messaging to communicate with their customers. For example, TD Fraud Alerts are texts that notify a customer if TD detects suspicious activity made with their TD Access Card on their personal banking accounts. The customer can reply to the alert with a simple “Y” or “N” to confirm whether they recognize the transaction and TD will unblock or block their TD Access Card accordingly based on the response. TD will never ask a customer to reply to a Fraud Alert text with any personal information or ask customers to click on any links in their reply.
  • Protect your PIN and guard your cheques – The only person who should know your PIN is you – not even your bank knows it. Don’t ever give out your PIN, whether in person, over the phone, online or by mail. You should also never leave your cheques unattended and if your chequebook is lost or stolen, call your bank immediately.
  • Don’t be fooled by phishing – Exercise caution when receiving unsolicited e-mails containing attachments or asking you to click a link and provide sensitive information. Banks will not ask you to provide personal information, or login information such as usernames, passwords, PINs, security questions and answers, or account numbers, through unsolicited e-mail.
  • Verify if it’s real – If you receive an unexpected and too-good-to-be-true cheque, chances are it may be fraudulent. It’s always important to know who you’re doing business with.
  • Check your statements, online accounts or banking apps regularly – This will alert you to fraudulent transactions more quickly. Money management apps, like the TD MySpend app, can be helpful tools since they help TD customers to be aware of certain types of transactions on eligible TD accounts and credit cards. The TD MySpend app provides notifications of spend transactions in real-time, which helps make it easy for customers to recognize a fraudulent purchase quickly.

For businesses:

  • Daily reconciliation – Reconcile all your business banking transactions daily. This data can be quickly and easily accessed online and will give you same day insights into your accounts.
  • Cheque your etiquette – Cheque fraud has been around for many years, so it’s important to take steps to help prevent it from impacting your business: centralize cheque issuing, use the latest security features on cheques like chemical protection, padlock icons and always use Magnetic Ink Character Recognition Serial Numbers (MICR) on business cheques.
  • Validate payment instructions – Exercise caution when receiving e-mails containing instructions appearing to be from, or on behalf of, an executive that requests urgent processing of a wire transfer. Verify such requests through another channel to confirm authenticity.
  • Check your surroundings – Inspect Point of Sale equipment regularly including serial numbers, wires and cables. If any equipment looks unfamiliar, appears altered, or is missing, notify your merchant solutions provider immediately. Check ceilings, walls or shelves near PIN pads for holes that could conceal a small camera. Install debit terminals so that customers have enough room to comfortably shield the PIN pad when entering their PIN number. The most common way of stealing a cardholder’s PIN is by “shoulder surfing” – looking over the cardholder’s shoulder. Make sure that any security cameras on the premises don’t capture customers entering their PIN.
  • Verify your online transactions – To help protect your business from fraudulent online transactions, be sure to monitor your account activity and take advantage of security features available from the payment networks. These include things like using available CVV validation or billing address verification services. Use of Verified by Visa® or MasterCard® SecureCode services are also highly recommended for ecommerce merchants to add an extra level of security, and can provide greater protection from fraud-related chargebacks.

About the TD Survey
Results are based on an online survey of 1,002 Canadian adults (aged 18yrs+), conducted between January 27 and 30, 2017, by Environics Research Group.

About TD Canada Trust
TD Canada Trust offers personal and business banking to more than 11.5 million customers. We provide a wide range of products and services from chequing and savings accounts, to credit cards, mortgages and business banking, to credit protection and travel medical insurance, as well as advice on managing everyday finances. TD Canada Trust makes banking comfortable with award-winning service and convenience through 24/7 mobile, internet, telephone and ATM banking, as well as in over 1,100 branches, with convenient hours to serve customers better. For more information, please visit: TD Canada Trust is the Canadian retail bank of TD Bank Group, the sixth largest bank in North America. Mutual Funds Representatives with TD Investment Services Inc. distribute mutual funds at TD Canada Trust.

SOURCE TD Canada Trust

Valentine’s fraud: Canadians lose $17M to online love scams

Valentine’s fraud: Canadians lose $17M to online love scams

Josh Elliott,

“Baby, I just need $1,000 to pay this fine, and then I can get out of this nightmare.”

“I don’t know what I’ll do if I can’t find the $10,000 to cover the surgery.”

“They’re going to kick me out of my house if I can’t come up with $500 more every month. Sweetie, can you save me?”

“I think it’s finally time we meet, but I can’t afford a ticket. If you send me the money, I’ll pay you back?”

If any of these situations sound familiar, you or a loved one may be the victim of a romance scam.

Police are warning lonely hearts to be wary of online-only relationships this Valentine’s Day, after Canadians lost approximately $17 million in romance scams last year.

Nearly 750 Canadians lost money to love scams in 2016, with some losing as much as $400,000 and declaring bankruptcy in pursuit of relationships engineered to leave them penniless. In most cases, the fraudsters posed as foreigners or Canadians working abroad and used high-pressure scenarios to elicit large payments from the victims.

Scammers will typically connect with victims through social media or an online dating site, and use fake photos and stories to win their trust. Eventually, after the victim has fallen in love, the scammer will say they need financial help to get out of a difficult situation.

“They’re asking the victim to help them out,” RCMP Sgt. Guy Paul Larocque told “That emotion invested… is what makes it successful for the scammers.”

The fraudster might claim they lost their luggage at the airport, and they’ll ask for some quick cash to help them get home. “They’ll show bank account statements to show they have the money to repay the victim, it’s just they don’t have access,” Larocque said.

In other cases, the fraudster might say they need money to pay for a necessary surgery, to care for a dependent child, or to pay a fine.

Larocque says most of the money stolen through romance scams is never recovered, because victims are duped into making several payments over a long period of time. By the time they realize what has happened, there’s no reversing the transfers they’ve made.

Larocque added that these scams are often executed by professionals based in other countries, who may also be working with organized crime. “They’re doing that purposely to make it more difficult for law enforcement to be able to get to them,” he said. “It is not somebody just playing behind the computer.”

How to recognize a love scam

Larocque says emotions can often leave victims blind to their situation, until it’s too late. However, there are certain signs that potential victims and their loved ones can watch for, to spot a scam before it does any damage.

For starters, Larocque says to be wary of any relationship that is based entirely online. “You don’t truly know who’s behind the computer until you meet that person,” he said.

One should also be suspicious of anyone who professes their love before an in-person meeting.

He says scammers often claim to live in another country, or that they live near the victim but are working abroad. And, while it’s certainly possible that a long-distance love might be legitimate, Larocque says to be particularly suspicious of those who claim to be engineers, security consultants or military officers stationed overseas.

Scammers have also been known to request that the victim cash a cheque for them, then send back a portion of the funds. In these cases, the cheque is counterfeit, and the unwitting victim winds up covering the fees from the bank.

Oftentimes it is a loved one who tips off police to a romance scam, because the victim is too emotionally invested to recognize the signs, Larocque said. Family members might become wise to the situation based on some change in the victim’s behaviour, especially if they start to struggle with money, or if they ask for a loan.

“It will create tension within the family because the victim sometimes doesn’t realize that there’s a scam going on,” he said.

He recommends listening for changes in the possible victim’s relationship, and alerting police as quickly as possible if something seems off.

“Sometimes if a (money) transfer is being flagged fast enough, then it can be wired back to the account of the victim,” he said.

Anyone who believes they or a loved one has been the victim of fraud should contact the RCMP’s Canadian Anti-fraud Centre online or by phone at 1-888-495-8501.

And of course, one should always be cautious about looking for love online – especially if money is involved.

“When an offer is too good to be true, it probably is,” he said.

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