Over $95M lost because of scams in 2017: Better Business Bureau

Click to play video: 'New scam tracker tool from the Better Business Bureau'
New scam tracker tool from the Better Business Bureau
WATCH: Thousands of Canadians are targeted by scammers every year. To help with prevention, the BBB has launched a scam tracker tool. Marian Henry and Tony Favelka joined Global News Morning in Winnipeg to talk about it – Feb 28, 2018

In 2017, Canadians lost over $95 million because of scams and only five per cent of victims come forward to report a crime.

To better protect consumers, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has created a new, free interactive online tool that gives people a place to report scams, fraud and other suspicious activities.

Services offered with the new tool include a heat map showing where scams are being reported, a search engine using different filters that shows what kind of scams are happening in their area and also how much money has been lost as a result of a certain scam.

RELATED: Scam texts and emails received by Winnipeggers a modern twist on an old crime

Below is the BBB’s top 10 scams list with information on how much money was lost based on the people reporting them:

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Online purchase scam (over $13 million lost)

From fake websites to counterfeit goods to free trial traps and more, online purchase scams are everywhere.  Always shop on reputable websites. Read all terms, agreements and conditions.  Be wary of offers that are ‘too good to be true’.

Wire fraud/Spearphishing (over $20 million lost)

Canadian businesses give away millions every year to imposters posing as CEOs who redirect company money through wire and email transfers.  Build in payment redundancy systems.  Ensure email addresses are correct.  Educate employees about these scams.

Online dating scams (over $19 million lost)

Canadians gave away a lot more than trust to Catphishers in 2017. They lost in love and in their wallets.  Never send money to someone you’ve never met.  Always meet in person.  Don’t give out personal information such as email or phone number.

Employment scam (over $5 million lost)

Last year’s number 1 slides down the list, but still targets Canadians through reputable employment websites.  If you didn’t apply, you didn’t get hired.  A legitimate company would not ask you to wire money as a ‘test’.  Look for poor grammar, lack of job details and over-the-top pay scale.

Cryptocurrency scams (over $1.7 million lost)

Cryptocurrencies are speculative, high-risk investments that are mostly unregulated.  As they have captured the attention of investors, so too have fraudsters taken notice.  There is an elevated risk of fraud and manipulation.  Some offerings may not comply with securities laws.

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Income tax scam (over $5 million lost)

It never really goes away.  Canadians are getting better at recognizing this scam, but that doesn’t mean you won’t get a call threatening your arrest over unpaid taxes.  The CRA does not make threatening phone calls or solicit personal information over the phone or by email.  Canadian government agencies do not accept payment in Bitcoin or gift cards.

Miracle weight-loss scam (losses unknown)

Losing weight is a goal for many Canadians.  Be careful, many fat-burning products may only lighten your wallet.  If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.  Don’t trust unsubstantiated claims.  There is no magic pill for rapid weight loss.

Advance fee loans (over $1.5 million)

Paying an upfront fee before receiving a loan is illegal in Canada.  They make promises of your approval and then backtrack claiming they need security to give you the money.  If you’re approved for a loan and they request money as security, walk away.  Research reputable lenders.  A guarantee of a loan before any credit check is highly suspect.

Shady contractors (over $3 million lost)

Yes, this is still a problem.  Contractors without a conscience who take your deposit and disappear.  Be wary of unsolicited offers of work.  Get several estimates for a job.  Go to to research trustworthy companies.

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Fake invoices (losses unknown)

Millions of Canadians have online accounts to companies like Amazon, UPS, Canada Post and iTunes.  Your email box is often stuffed with realistic looking invoices from many different organizations.  Contact the organization directly if you have concerns.  Compare details of the invoice to your original order.  Don’t click on any links or input personal information or payment in Bitcoin.

If you believe you have fallen victim to a scam, contact your local police.

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