What is fraud?>
A false representation of a matter of fact - whether by words or by conduct, by false or misleading allegations, or by concealment of what should have been disclosed - that deceives and is intended to deceive another so that the individual will act upon it.
Fraudsters are real. They spend their day developing new schemes to separate you from your hard earned money and they are good at what they do. They can target you in person, through the mail, through telephone contact and/or through the internet.
Thousands of Canadians fall victim to fraud each year with losses in the millions of dollars. The impact is felt by individuals, families, businesses and society as a whole. The best way to fight against fraud is by having the knowledge to recognize it before you part with your money or property.
If you are the victim of a fraud and have lost money / provided personal information you will need to report it to the police and you should also do the following:
If you have received a fraudulent phone call/email/communication and have not provided any personal information or lost any money, please contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501 to file a report. Unless you have lost money or provided personal information, it does not need to be reported to the police.
The best way to protect yourself from fraud is to be aware of the scams that are out there. Many of the common scams are listed below. To ensure you don't fall victim to a scammer remember the following:
- Never provide personal information to anyone over the phone unless you have confirmed their identity
- Change your passwords frequently
- Never send money, gift cards or cryptocurrency to someone you don't know
- Share your story with others - your family, friends, neighbours, and any seniors you know as they are often targeted by fraudsters
The Grandparent Scam usually involves a grandparent receiving a phone call from a person claiming to be their grandchild. The caller advises they have been arrested and require cash to be released. The phone is then passed to an individual claiming to be a police officer or bond officer and a demand for cash payment is made to release the grandchild.
The fake police officer instructs the grandparent to withdraw funds and advises that someone can attend the grandparent's residence to pick up the money, or requests a wire transfer. The demand for cash often becomes increasingly aggressive.
If you receive a call like this, do not wire money or give the caller any information. Hang up and call your grandchild or another family member, then report it to police. Police never contact family members and request cash bail or send someone to a residence to collect bail.
Tips to Prevent Falling Victim to the Grandparent Scam
1. Please share this information with the seniors in your life - parents, neighbours, aunts, uncles. Knowledge is power. Tell them about this scam so they are aware and know what to do should they receive a call like this.
2. Use your answering machine for unknown numbers. If an unknown number is calling, don't answer and let it go to the machine. If it's an important and legitimate call, they will leave a message.
3. Create a family password that you share with the seniors in your life so if they get a phone call about the well-being or safety of a person in the family, the caller will be able to provide the password. This way seniors can confirm the identity of loved ones over the phone as well.
A romance scam involves any individual with false romantic intentions toward a victim in order to gain their trust and affection for the purpose of obtaining the victim's money or access to their bank accounts or credit cards. In some cases, the suspect will even attempt to get the victim to commit fraud on their behalf - as a money mule (accepting, then transferring money or goods) often unknowingly. Most romance scams begin via social media sites or online dating sites.
The typical victim is between 50-59 years of age and often met through social networking.
The fraudster will express a strong emotional connection to the victim in a relatively short period of time. Once the connection is made and trust is gained the fraudster will begin to make requests for money while promising they will be together soon. Once the connection is made and trust is gained the fraudster will begin to make requests for money while promising they will be together soon. The financial requests can range from:
- Covering the cost of travel to visit the victim.
- Covering emergency medical procedures.
- Seeking participation in a business venture.
- Seeking participation in a scheme to collect funds from an estate while hiding from taxation.
The fraudster will request the victim make contact on a more private medium such as telephone, email or instant messaging. They will often request to see the victim through a video connection; but, are unable to do the same as the webcam is not working. The fraudster will often claim to be physically outside of Canada on business or reside somewhere outside Canada. They will often present themselves as a member of the United States military currently on deployment needing money to return home or as a businessman involved in big international transaction requiring funding.
How you can protect yourself or a loved one
- Be suspicious when someone you haven't met in person professes their love to you. Ask yourself, would someone I've never met really declare their love after one a few emails?
- Be wary when someone you meet on social media wants to quickly move to a private mode of communication
- If trying to set up an in-person meeting, be suspicious if they always have an excuse to not meet
- If you do actually set up a meeting, tell family and friends when and where you're going and meet in a local, public place
- Do not share personal or financial information with anyone you've only just met online or in person
- Never send intimate photos or video of yourself. The scammer may try to use these to blackmail you into sending money
- Be cautious when conversing with an individual that claims to live close to you, but is working overseas
- Never, under any circumstances, send money for any reason. The scammer will make it seem like an emergency, they may even express distress or anger to make you feel guilty but DO NOT send money
- Should you be asked to accept money or goods for you to then transfer/send elsewhere, do not accept to do so. This is usually a form of money laundering, which is a criminal offence
The Lottery Scam is a form of advance - fee scam. The victims receive a phone call, letter or email announcing that they won a substantive prize i.e. monetary or a vehicle. The lottery will claim to originate from outside Ontario, often from London, England. The victim is told they have to send money to cover duty, taxes, delivery and legal fees before they will be able to collect the winnings.
After you have departed with substantial funds you may be contacted by scammers claiming to be with the Attorney General Department, Interpol, Canadian Customs, the RCMP or some other law enforcement type agency. They will claim the ability to get all your money back if you help them catch the "ring leader" by sending more money.
How you should handle It:
1. Remember in Canada it is illegal for a legitimate lottery to charge the winner any fees.
2. Ask yourself: Did I buy a ticket?
3. Ask yourself: Was I ever in the location where they claim the lottery originated from?
4. Do not send money to collect any alleged winning.
5. Do not provide any of your bank information.
In CRA scams, tax payers receive fraudulent communications via text message, email, phone or letter that claim to be from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The fraudsters pressure the victims to either pay an outstanding balance to avoid arrest or provide personal information in order to receive a tax refund.
- You receive a call or voice recording from an individual claiming to represent the CRA and demanding immediate payment for taxes that you allegedly owe.
- The fraudster or recording may threaten that if you don’t make a payment immediately, a warrant will be issued for your arrest.
- The fraudster requests personal and banking information, such as your Social Insurance Number or credit card number.
- The victim loses the money they spent on the fake debt and they get their identity stolen because they shared sensitive information with the fraudster.
How to protect yourself
- Provide personal or banking information when solicited by an unknown party unless you initiated the contact.
- Rely on call display information to authenticate the caller, as numbers can be spoofed to appear to originate from a legitimate source.
- Rush into making a payment, especially if you are being threatened. Take your time to understand the legitimacy of the situation.
- Agree to meet someone in a public place to make a payment to the CRA.
Are you a victim of identity theft?
Issues of identity theft can affect an individual for many years. You must be vigilant and smart
when protecting your identity.
The following is a list of steps to consider to protect yourself from further victimization:
a. Local police service
b. Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre
c. Financial institution(s): Contact your banks. Change your PIN numbers.
d. Credit Bureaus: To advise and have a “flag” placed on your account advising you
have been the victim of identity fraud.
e. Social Insurance Number (S.I.N.): Contact Service Canada to advise
Note: You will not be issued a new S.I.N.
f. Driver’s Licence: Contact the Ontario Ministry of Transportation through any Service Ontario outlet to advise.
g. Ontario Health Insurance Plan (OHIP): Contact the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care through any Service Ontario outlet to advise.
2. Credit report - You are entitled to one free credit report annually from each credit
bureau provided you mail in your credit report application. Go to drps.ca or the applicable credit bureau website to print a copy of the application. Upon receipt of your credit report read it closely. What may appear to be a typo could be a redflag identifier of further victimization. Report all concerns to the applicable credit bureau and any creditor identified.
3. Credit monitoring - Consider subscribing to credit monitor. Refer to the credit bureau for
further details on this services.
4. Computing Equipment - take your device(s) to a reputable agent to be swept for Trojan
horses, malware, etc.
5. Passwords - Change ALL associated passwords. Consider a ‘Pass-phrase” of 12 or
more digits. Do not save Pass-phrases on any of your devices.
6. Telephone number- Change your telephone number if you had provided this number to
the scammers. If you don’t be prepared to receive further unsolicited telephone calls seeking to defraud you further.
7. Social Media, Email accounts, etc. – Close whatever account medium was used to
defraud you. If desired, open a new account with completely different credentials. Advise you
contacts of the new account information only after you have closed the previous medium.
8. Contact Canada Post- Confirm your mailing address is correct. Any issue contact
Canada Post security.
9. Contact service provider(s)- Advise your service providers i.e. cellular telephone
carrier, electrical and gas supplier, etc. of any compromise. Request the service provider notify
you directly if there is any attempt to make changes to your account.
Investment Scams are the largest cause of financial loss through fraud in Canada. According to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre, $163.9 million was lost to investment scams in 2021 alone.
Victims may be targeted through social media, online ads, fraudulent websites, or even in-person by someone they trust, and are often promised higher-than-normal returns with little to no risk.
In some cases, to attempt to appear legitimate, fraudsters may even ask you to provide copies of your personal identification to “verify your identity” and direct you to fraudulent websites that purport to show your account balance. Unfortunately, these account balances are not real and your money has been taken by the fraudsters. They may also try to solicit further money from you to pay “taxes” or “fees” if you make an attempt to withdraw your funds.
How to Protect Yourself
There are many resources and regulatory safeguards in place to help protect you and your money.
Before you consider an investment:
- Check if the person/company is registered to sell investments with the Canadian Securities Administrators
- Check if the person/company have been the subject of an Investor Alert
- Answer a few quick questions on the Scam Spotter tool offered by the Ontario Securities Commission to help you spot warning signs of Fraud that you may have missed
For more information on financial literacy, investing, and how to better recognize scams go to:
DRPS' Financial Crimes Unit is warning members of the public, that there has been a new, prevalent emergency text message scam circulating, known as the ‘Broken Phone Scam’.
The scammer sends a text message to the victim, claiming to be a family member. They say their cell phone is broken or dropped in water and need immediate assistance making a payment. The scammer will then provide or use an alternate phone number to contact them and ask a favour to pay a bill, requesting funds via e-transfer. The victim then makes an e-transfer to the scammer’s email address, thinking they are helping a loved one.
Police are reminding the public to:
- Not trust caller ID names and phone numbers as scammers use spoofing
- Never send money or personal information to unknown names, phone numbers or email addresses
- Always confirm text messages with the family member first, if making an unusual payment request
- Be suspicious. Any unusual or urgent request to send money via e-transfer, crypto currency or gift cards, is likely a scam
- Be careful what you post online as scammers can easily get phone number details and names on social media
If you have been victimized by this type of fraud, you can make a report online at www.drps.ca or contact the Canadian Anti Fraud Centre at 1-888-495-8501
Know your rights when you sign a contract at your door and learn about how to avoid common door-to-door scams. Certain products and services cannot be offered or sold at your home unless you initiate the transaction. For example, by calling or emailing a business and asking them to come to your home for the purpose of entering into a contract.
These restricted products and services include:
- Air conditioners
- Air cleaners
- Air purifiers
- Water heaters
- Water treatment devices
- Water purifiers
- Water filters
- Water softeners
- Duct cleaning services
- Any good or service that performs or combines one or more of the above functions
Note: This Act does not applied to federally regulated businesses i.e. telecommunication.
Access to Consumers
To circumvent the Act some HVAC businesses and contractors are contacting the homeowner via telephone with the claim of working in their neighbourhood with the offer of a free HVAC inspection and/or invitation to participate in some Government of Canada grant program. Unsuspecting homeowners, often older adults or vulnerable persons, find themselves signing contracts in exorbitant amounts such as:
- $70,000 for a new furnace;
- $7,000 for a Nest thermostat;
- $20,000 for attic insulation; and
- $150,000 for pot lights and new trim in the house.
The business then works quickly to circumvent the “cooling off" period permitted under law
More often than not the homeowner is unaware is unaware the contract is registered as a lien against the title. Such action often amount to form of mortgage fraud. The OPP have an active investigation.
Search of Title to check for liens
Property records are public record and are accessible on-line (for a fee) to everyone at a fee. The company that maintains the records on behalf of Service Ontario is known as “Teraview".
All homeowners should check the land registry record often to ensure everything registered against the property title is in order.
Filing a Complaint
Filing a consumer complaint with the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery https://www.ontario.ca/page/filing-consumer-complaint
Complaint form: Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery
Be Aware List
The Ministry maintains a business “Be Aware List" that is available to everyone https://www.consumerbewarelist.mgs.gov.on.ca/en/cbl/search