Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre says education powerful tool for avoiding fraud 

Technology has made a significant impact on how prolific and sophisticated scam attempts have become. Erica Natividad speaks to an expert on how to avoid becoming a victim.

By Erica Natividad

During Fraud Prevention Month, the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre (CAFC) and law enforcement agencies across the province are raising awareness about how fraud has evolved, emphasizing that education is one of the most powerful tools to prevent yourself from becoming a victim.

Two popular scams have been suspicious text messages, one from Canada Post or another government agency asking its target to click a link.

“Canada Post will never send you a text message asking you to click on a link,” explained Jeff Horncastle with CAFC.

Another involves someone claiming to be a recruiter for a company looking for part-time workers.

“You’re asked to eventually boost apps or boost games or websites, and victims actually receive a bit of money. But as time goes on, they’re asked to put a bit of their own money in, and it kind of turns into an investment-type scam.”

Texts are just one of the wide range of devices being used by criminals to fleece innocent victims in straightforward or sometimes elaborate schemes.

In Peel Region, police highlighting a taxpayer-related scam where criminals pose as members of the Canada Revenue Agency in the hopes of obtaining personal information, money and even your identity.

The CAFC says technology has changed the landscape, making scams more prolific and sophisticated.

“Last week, we put an alert out about a text message that actually included the target’s social insurance number. So what they’re doing is these criminals are taking information from a previous data breach and using it as a tool to try to victimize the next person,” explained Horncastle.

Fraud remains one of the most underreported crimes. The CAFC estimates that only five to 10 per cent of victims actually report. Even more troubling is just how much money is being stolen. In 2023, the centre received reports totalling $554 million in victim losses, up $20 million from the year before.

“In reality, the losses are in the billions of dollars in for 2023.”

While many may believe they’d never fall for these types of scams, Horncastle said it can happen to a wide range of demographics no matter how street smart you think you might be.

High pressure and threats are some of the main tactics fraudsters use to persuade victims into handing over large amounts of cash.

“A lot of these messages look very legitimate. So just take the time to analyze them. Do I normally get communication from this company or agency in this manner, if you’re not sure, reach out to somebody for a second opinion,” shared Horncastle. “Always take a little bit of extra time to look into it. You’ll save yourself from being a victim.”

For more information and resources, you can head to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre’s website and also follow them on social media.

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