BBB announces National Top 10 Scams of 2015

Canadians reported being scammed out of 61 million in 2015 – just five per cent of what is lost

2015 has drawn to a close, the smoke has cleared and the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has a better understanding of the scams that affected you and yours over the past year.

As we enter 2016, the Top 10 Scams is a good news, bad news affair and once again runs in conjunction with the Competition Bureau’s Fraud Prevention Month.

In 2014 we highlighted the fact that Canadians were scammed to the tune of roughly 71 million dollars.

In 2015, that number came down by about 10 million. That’s the good news. Canadians are becoming more savvy, more adept at spotting a scam and letting others know.

The good news, however, is still tainted by under reporting. The 61 million lost in 2015 is likely just five percent of what was actually lost as victims often feel too ashamed to do anything about it.

“The bad news,” says Danielle Primrose, President and CEO of BBB serving Mainland B.C., “Is scammers are finding new ways, new disguises to ply us with the same scams. The Canada Revenue Agency Scam is our number one scam this year. It was the most reported scam by far and it took several forms in order to get your money. And it didn’t just happen around tax time, all year long we received calls.”

According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, over 17, 000 Canadians reported being affected in some way by the CRA scam.

Luckily it wasn’t the most lucrative scam for would be thieves. That reluctant title goes to Catphishing.

Catphishing is the name given to online dating scams.

“Canadians are still giving away money in hopes of a new romantic relationship,” adds Primrose. “Canadians lost more money to online romance scams than any other reported scam, by a margin of almost 10 million! When as many as 20 per cent of online profiles are believed to be fake, it’s an area where users really need to proceed with caution.”

Here is BBB’s National Top 10 Scams List of 2015:

1. Top Extortion Scam: CRA Income Tax Scam Total Loss=2.9 Million

2. Top Heartbreak Scam: Catphishing; Total Loss=15.6 Million

3. Top Prize Scam: Fake Lottery Winnings; Total Loss=6.5 Million

4. Top Financial Scam: Investment Fraud; Total Loss=6.0 Million

5. Top Employment Scam: Secret Shopper, Total Loss=3.9 Million

6. Top Subscription Scam: Free Trial Traps, Total Loss=2.9 Million

7. Top Imposter Scam: Spear Phishing, Total Loss=5.8 Million

8. Top Private Sale Scam: Overpayment/Refund, Total Loss=5.3 Million

9. Top Emergency Scam: Fake Relative Needs Cash, Total Loss=1.9 Million

10. Top Lending Scam: Advance Fee Loans, Total Loss= 989,634 Thousand

BBB is doing more to help the public navigate through all the scams targeting them.

In 2015 BBB introduced Scam Tracker. This is a new tool that allows the public to upload and share their experiences with scams.

Scam Tracker is a microsite with a heat map and search function that allows the user to find information on specific scams throughout North America.

In less than a year Scam Tracker has logged over 16,000 scams in North America, with over 80 scams published here in B.C.

Sadly those numbers keep going up.

One of the key things people can do to prevent getting scammed is to regularly change their passwords to online accounts.

With that in mind, BBB is launching ‘BBB Password Day’ on March 15, 2016.

This is a new initiative from BBB serving Mainland BC and we hope to inspire and remind Canadians about the importance of protecting their online presence. #bbbpasswordday