Canadians lost billions to scams in 2018


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This article was published 02/04/2019 (1341 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

The best way to people’s wallets just might be through their hearts. A new report from the Better Business Bureau shows Canadians lose millions of dollars to romance scams. Last year alone, they lost more than $22.5 million to scammers pulling on their heartstrings.

Romance scams ranked first on the BBB’s Top 10 list for 2018. Victims didn’t just suffer financially; they suffered emotionally, psychologically and socially. With the popularity of online dating, it’s become easier than ever for people all over the world to lure online love-seekers into fake relationships.

It’s not just seniors scams are targeting, either. Scammers are using more sophisticated methods to broaden their attacks on all demographics. Romance scams, income tax extortion and online shopping scams were the top three fraud schemes in Canada in 2018, according to the Better Business Bureau.

The BBB wants to remind people to never send money to someone you haven’t met in person. Sob stories, planned meet-ups that never happen, and tales of family emergencies are all cunning tactics scammers use to fool their victims. If you’ve never fallen victim to a scam, you may mistakenly think they’re easy to spot and avoid. The numbers, though, tell a different story. People lost three times as much to romance scams than the second-ranked scam on the BBB’s Top 10 list.

That scam — income tax extortion campaigns — cost Canadians more than $6 million itself. It’s effective because scammers scare their victims with threats, pretending to be operating as or on behalf of the Canada Revenue Agency. People are generally better at recognizing this scam than they are at identifying cat-phishing but many still fall for it.

The BBB reminds people that the CRA doesn’t request personal information over the phone or via email. Be sure to delete texts and emails that claim to be from the CRA.

Online purchase scams are third on the list for 2018, tricking Canadians out of more than $3.5 million. These are tough to avoid because they come in many shapes and forms. Online purchase scams range from fake websites to receiving counterfeit products. To avoid them, the BBB recommends using reputable payment portals and verifying that businesses are legitimate before buying. You can search them at Also be wary of offers that seem too good to be true. They likely are. Wherever possible, shop locally and in-person.

In all, the report shows Canadians lost more than $1 billion to scams last year, a number that’s been trending upwards. And since not many people actually report falling prey to scams, the actual number is more likely in the $3 billion range.

For more information on scams in your region, or to report a scam, visit

Better Business Bureau

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