These are the Better Business Bureau's Top 10 scams of 2018

Mar 1 2019, 6:12 pm

Scammers and con artists are getting smarter and smarter and, as a result, Canadians are losing more and more money.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has just released its top 10 list of scams in 2018, representing the 10 local BBBs across Canada.

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“Over 50,000 scams were reported on the BBB Scam Tracker across North America,” says Danielle Primrose, President and CEO of BBB serving Mainland British Columbia. “Underreporting continues to be of serious concern.”

In a press conference with Primrose and the Vancouver Police Department (VPD), it was explained that Canadians lost nearly $121 million in 2018.

It was also explained that considering only 5% of victims report these crimes, actual losses may approach close to $3 billion.

There are the BBB’s top 10 scams of 2018.

10. Bank Investigator Scams

The investigator scam begins with a phone call, typically early in the morning, from someone claiming to be a bank representative, law enforcement officer, or an investigator.

They’ll warn their victim that there’s fraudulent activity on their account and ask for either credit card information or to transfer funds into another account for “protection.”

Tips: 

  • Banks do not ask clients to participate in investigations or to transfer funds.
  • Be cautious of early morning phone calls from your “bank;” scammers often try to prey on confusion.

More than $2 million lost.

9. Home Improvement Scams

These scams will begin with a door-to-door solicitor, who often offers quick, low-cost repairs.

They’ll explain that “they’re in the neighbourhood” for another job, or that they have extra materials from their last job.

They’ll often ask for cash up front and use high-pressure sales tactics and will either take a payment and never return, or do a poor job, damaging your home in the process.

Tips: 

  • Say no to cash-only deals, and never accept a job without a written payment including price, materials, timeline, and details.

Losses are unknown. 

8. Tech Support Scams

Scammers will call pretending to be computer techs from well-known companies like Microsoft or Apple.

Others will send pop-up messages warning about computer problems.

Their end goal is to convince victims that they have a non-existent problem, forcing them to pay for unnecessary and even harmful services.

Tips: 

  • Never give control of your computer to a third party.
  • Legitimate tech support companies don’t call out of the blue.
  • Don’t click on links in unfamiliar emails.

Almost $1 million lost. 

7. Advance Fee Loans

An advance fee loan preys on those in a financial bind, especially those who don’t qualify for loans from reputable lenders.

In most cases, scammers will request an upfront fee to secure the loan, however, this is illegal in Canada.

Tips: 

  • If a company asks for money to secure a loan, then walk away.
  • Be suspicious if a company guarantees a loan prior to a credit check.

Almost $1 million lost. 

6. Subscription Scams

Online advertisements can often promote skincare, cosmetic products, weight loss, and diet pills.

Canadians have been enticed by fake celebrity endorsements and the promise of a ‘risk-free trial,’ resulting in subscription traps with large monthly charges to their credit card.

Tips: 

  • Read all the terms and conditions.
  • If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Look for pre-checked boxes before placing your order.

Losses are unknown. 

5. Phishing

Phishing can include anything from fake invoices and online endorsements to wire fraud.

Phoney emails and fake websites are created to scam the public and they continue to be a huge problem.

Tips: 

  • If you receive an email that looks suspicious, contact the business directly.
  • Only shop on legitimate websites.
  • Don’t click on links if you have any doubts about the sender of an email or a website.

Losses are unknown. 

4. Employment Scam

This scam targets jobseekers, even those who use reputable employment sites.

Scammers may send cheques with a significant overpayment and request that you forward the excess money to someone else.

The cheques are always fake and the victim will be left covering the costs.

Tips: 

  • Do your research on a company before accepting a job offer.
  • If you did not apply for a job, then you didn’t get hired for one.
  • A legitmate company will never ask you to forward money or to pay an administration fee.

More than 4.5 million lost. 

3. Online Purchase Scams

Online purchase scams can range from fake websites and free trials, to purchasing counterfeit goods and receiving fraudulent cheques.

This was the BBB’s top scam of 2017.

Tips: 

  • Always shop on legitimate websites and use reputable payment portals.
  • If possible, do transactions from websites like Craigslist locally and in person.

More than 3.5 million lost. 

2. Income Tax Extortion Scams

There are nationwide reports of threatening phone calls and email extortion campaigns where victims are being blackmailed, as well as scams that fraudulently use the CRA’s name to swindle money from people.

Tips: 

  • The CRA will not make threatening phone calls or ask for personal information via phone or email.
  • Delete texts and emails claiming to be from the CRA.
  • Government agencies do not accept Bitcoin or gift cards.

More than $6 million lost. 

1. Romance Scams

Canadians were victimized financially, emotionally, psychologically, and socially by romance scams in 2018.

In some cases, victims even become money mules.

Catfishing through online dating continues to be a lucrative and seductive business for scammers.

Tips: 

  • Never wire or transfer money to someone you haven’t met.
  • Don’t share personal information on dating sites.
  • Be wary of a person who claims they are out of the country and can’t meet you in person.

More than $22.5 million lost. 

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