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Online purchase scams and wire fraud top list of scams for 2017

BBB top 10 scams
The Better Business Bureau is out with its annual list of top 10 scams. Anne Drewa has the details.

Canadians lost millions of dollars to scams last year and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is hoping more awareness will curb the crimes.

Every year the organization releases its ‘Top 10 Scams’ list with tips on what to look out for to help protect consumers from con artists.

In 2017, Canadians lost more than $33 million to online purchase scams and wire fraud alone.

The BBB says online scams are everywhere, and that the most popular scam by far was online purchases, such as fake websites to counterfeit goods.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends to:

  • Shop on reputable websites
  • Read all terms and conditions
  • Be wary of offers that are “too good to be true”

READ MORE: Vancouver server warns people after she lost $8K in Bitcoin CRA scam

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Coming in second is wire fraud and “spear phising.” Canadians lost more than $20 million last year to people posing as CEOs, who redirect company money through wire and email transfers.

Spear phising means an email or any other kind of electronic communication that targets someone or a business to steal data for malicious purposes or to install malware.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends to:

  • Build in payment redundancy systems
  • Make sure email addresses are correct
  • Educate your employees about these scams

Third place goes to romance scams where Canadians were defrauded out of more than $19 million. The BBB says these scams continue to hurt those looking for love.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends to:

  • Never send money to someone you’ve never met
  • Always meet in person
  • Don’t give out personal information such as email and phone number

Fourth on the list is employment scams, which cost Canadians more than $5 million last year.

This includes targeting Canadians through reputable employment websites.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends:

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  • 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

More than $1.7 million was lost last year to cryptocurrency scams, which include speculative, high-risk investments that are mostly unregulated.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends:

  • Buying cryptocurrency involves an elevated risk of fraud and manipulation
  • Some offerings may not comply with securities laws

READ MORE: Why Canada is poised to become a prime destination for Bitcoin mining

Income tax scams are number six on the list, with more than $5 million lost last year.

The BBB says for years, Canadians from coast to coast have been targeted in the “CRA tax scam.”

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends:

  • The CRA does not make threatening phone calls
  • The CRA will not solicit personal information over the phone or by email
  • Canadian government agencies do not accept payment in Bitcoin

READ MORE: RCMP warn of Canada Revenue Scam as B.C. residents gear up to file taxes

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The miracle weight-loss scam is next on the list but the exact amount scammed out of Canadians is not known.

While losing weight is a goal for many Canadians, the BBB warns many fat-burning products may only lighten your wallet.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends:

  • 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

READ MORE: Green tea extract may cause liver damage, Health Canada warns

More than $1.5 million was lost to advance-fee loans last year.

The BBB says a shady lender will guarantee the victim that they will get a loan, but then they will turn around and ask for an upfront payment as security.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends:

  • 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

The BBB is also warning people to be wary of shady contractors, after more than $3 million were lost last year.

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To combat these scams, the BBB recommends:

  • Be wary of unsolicited offers of work
  • Get several estimates for a job
  • Go to BBB.org to research trustworthy companies

Finally, fake invoices round out the top 10 list.

The BBB says millions of Canadians have online accounts to companies like Amazon, UPS, Canada Post and iTunes. This can lead to an email with realistic looking invoices in them.

To combat these scams, the BBB recommends:

  • 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